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PHANTASIES: 

A FAERIE ROMANCE. 



Phantasies from " their fount " all shapes deriving, 
In new habiliments can quickly di^ht. 

Fletcher's Purple Island. 



PHANTASTES: 



A FAERIE ROMAIC CE FOR MEN AND WOMEN. 



GEORGE MAC DONALD, 

AUTHOR OF " KOBBKT FALCONKK," " DAVID ELGINBUOD," ETC. 



" In goorl sooth, my masters, this is no door. Yet is it a little window, that 
)oketh upon a great world." 



L O R I N Gh , Publisher, 

319 Washington Street, 
35 School Street, 
BOSTON. 




. y/ M^ 



Es lassen sich Erzahlungen ohne Zusammenhang, jedoch mit Asso- 
ciation, wie Traume, denken ; Gedichte, die bloss wohlklingend und 
vol! schoner Worte sind, aber auch ohne alien Sinn und Zusammen- 
hang, hochstens einzelne Strophen verstiindlich, wie Bruchstiicke aus 
den verschiedenartigsten Dingen. Diese wahre Poesie kann hochstens 
einen allegorischen Sinn im Grossen, und eine indirecte AVirkung, 
•wie Musik haben. Darum istdie Natur so rein poetisch, wie die Stube 
eines Zauberers, eines Physikers, eine Kinderstube, eine Polter-und 
Vorrathskammer. . . . 

Ein Mahrchen ist wie ein Traumbild ohne Zusammenhang. Ein 
Ensemble wunderbarer Dinge und Begebenheiten, z. B. eine Musi- 
kalische Phantasie, die harmonischen Eolgen einer Aeolsharfe, die 
Natur selbst. 

In einem echten Mahrchen muss alles wunderbar, geheimnissToll 
und zusammenhiingend sein; alles belebt, jeder auf eine andere Art. 
Die ganze Natur muss wundelich mit der ganzen Geisterwelt gemischt 
sein; bier tritt die Zeit der Anarchic, der Gesetzlosigkeit, Freiheit, 
der Naturstand der Natur, die Zeit vor der "Welt ein. . . . Die 
Welt des Mahrehens ist die, der "Welt der "Wahrheit durchaus entge- 
gengesetzte, und eben darum ihr so durchaus ahnlich, wie das Chaos 
der voUendeten Schopfung ahnlich ist. — Novalis. 



4S>6? 



PHANTASTES. 



I. 

ft 
A spirit . ft 

The undulating woods, and silent well, 

And rippling rivulet, and evening gloom. 

Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming. 

Held commune with him ; as if he and it 

Were all that was. 

Shelley's Alasior. 

I AWOKE one morning with the usual perplexity of mind 
which accompanies the return of consciousness. As I laj 
and looked through the eastern window of my room, a faint 
streak of peach-color, dividing a cloud that just rose above 
the low swell of the horizon, announced the approach of the 
sun. As my thoughts, which a deep and apparently 
dreamless sleep had dissolved, began again to assume crys- 
talline forms, the strange events of the foregoing night pre- 
sented themselves anew to my wondering consciousness. 
The day before had been my one-and-twentieth birthday. 



b PHANTASTES : 

Among other ceremonies investing me -witli my legal rights, 
the keys of an old secretary, in which my father had kept 
his private papers, had been delivered up to me. As soon 
as I was left alone, I ordered lights in the chamber where 
the secretary stood, — the first lights that had been there for 
many a year ; for, since my father's death, the room had 
been left undisturbed. But, as if the darkness had been 
too long an inmate to be easily expelled, and had dyed with 
blackness the walls to which, bat-like, it had clung, these 
tapers served but ill to light up the gloomy hangings, and 
seemed to throw yet darker shadows into the hollows of the 
deep-wrought cornice. All the further portions of the 
room lay shrouded in a mystery whose deepest folds were 
gathered around the dark oak cabinet which I now ap- 
proached with a strange mingling of reverence and curi- 
osity. Perhaps, like a geologist, I was about to turn up to 
the light some of the buried strata of the human world, 
with its fossil remains charred by passion and petrified by 
tears. Perhaps I was to learn how my father, whose per- 
sonal history was unknown to me, had woven his web of 
story ; how he had found the world, and how the world 
had left him. Perhaps I was to find only the records of 
lands and moneys, how gotten and how secured ; coming 
down from strange men, and through troublous times, to 
me who knew little or nothing of them all. 

To solve my speculations, and to dispel the awe which 
was fast gathering around me as if the dead were drawing 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. ' 7 

near, I approached the secretary ; and having found the 
key that fitted the upper portion, I opened it with some 
diflBculty, drew near it a heavy high-backed chair, and sat 
down before a multitude of little drawers and slides and 
pigeon-holes. But the door of a little cupboard in the 
centre especially attracted my interest, as if there lay the 
secret of this long-hidden world. Its key I found. One 
of the rusty hinges cracked and broke as I opened the door : 
it revealed a number of small pigeon-holes. These, how- 
ever, being but shallow compared with the depth of those 
around the little cupboard, the outer ones reaching to the 
back of the desk, I concluded that there must be some ac- 
cessible space behind; and found, indeed, that they were 
formed in a separate framework, which admitted of the 
whole being pulled out in one piece. Behind, I found a 
sort of flexible portcullis of small bars of wood laid close 
together horizontally. After long search, and trying 
many ways to move it, I discovered at last a scarcely pro- 
jecting point of steel on one side. I pressed this re- 
peatedly and hard with the point of an old tool that was 
lying near, till at length it yielded inwards ; and the little 
slide, flying up suddenly, disclosed a chamber, — empty, 
except that in one corner lay a little heap of withered rose- 
leaves, whose long-lived scent had long since departed; 
and, in another, a small packet of papers, tied with a bit 
of ribbon, whose color had gone with the rose-scent. Al- 
most fearing to touch them, they witnessed so mutely to 



. 8 • PHANTASIES : 

the law of oblivion, I leaned back in my chair, and re- 
garded them for a moment ; when suddenly there stood on 
the threshold of the little chamber, as though she had just 
emerged from its depth,. a tiny woman-form, as perfect in 
shape as if she had been a small Greek statuette roused to 
life and motion. Her dress was of a kind that could never 
grow old-fashioned, because it was simply natural : a robe 
plaited in a band around the neck, and confined by a belt 
about the waist, descended to her feet. It -was only after- 
wards, however, that I took notice of her dress, although 
my surprise was by no means of so overpowering a degree 
as such an apparition might naturally be expected to excite. 
Seeing, however, as I suppose, some astonishment in my 
countenance, she came forward within a yard of me, and 
said, in a voice that strangely recalled a sensation of twi- 
light, and reedy river banks, and a low wind, even in this 
deathly room : — 

" Anodos, you never saw such a little creature before, 
did you ? " 

"No," said I; "and indeed I hardly believe I do 
now." 

"Ah! that is always the way with you men; you be- 
lieve nothing the first time ; and it is foolish enough to let 
mere repetition convince you of what you consider in itself 
unbelievable. I am not going to argue with you, however, 
but to grant you a wish." 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. V 

Here I could not help interrupting her with the foolisli 
speech, of which, however, I had no cause to repent : — 

"How can such a very little creature as you, grant or 
refuse anything ? " 

' ' Is that all the philosophy you have gained in one-and 
twenty years?" said she. "Form is much, but size is 
nothing. It is a mere matter of relation. I suppose your 
six-foot lordship does not feel altogether insignificant, 
though to others you do look small beside your old Uncle 
Ralph, who rises above you a great half-foot at least. But 
size is of so little consequence with me, that I may as well 
accommodate myself to your foolish prejudices." 

So saying, she leaped from the desk upon the floor; where 
she stood a tall, gracious lady, with pale face and large 
blue eyes. Her dark hair flowed behind, wavy but un- 
curled, down to her waist, and against it her form stood 
clear in its robe of white. 

*' Now," said she, "you will believe me." 

Overcome with the presence of a beauty which I could 
now perceive, and drawn towards her by an attraction 
irresistible as incomprehensible, I suppose I stretched out 
my arms towards her, for she drew back a step or two. and 
said : — 

" Foolish boy, if you could touch me, I should hurt you. 
Besides, I was two hundred and thirty-seven years old last 
Midsummer-eve ; and a man must not fall in love with his 
grandmother, you know." 



10 PHANTASTES : 

" But you are not my grandmother," said I. 

"How do you know that? " she retorted. ." I dare say 
you know something of your great-grandfathers a good deal 
further back than that ; but you know very little about 
your great-grandmothers on either side. Now, to the 
point. Your little sister was reading a fairy tale to you 
last night." 

"She was." 

" When she had finished, she said, as she closed the 
book, ' Is there a fairy country, brother ? ' You replied 
with a sigh, ' I suppose there is, if one could find the way 
into it.' " 

"I did; but I meant something quite different from 
what you seem to think." 

" Never mind what I seem to think. You shall find 
the way into Fairy-land to-morrow. Now look in my 
eyes." 

Eagerly I did so. They filled me with an unknown 
longing. I remembered somehow that my mother died 
when I was a baby. I looked deeper and deeper, till they 
spread around me like seas, and I sank in their waters. I 
forgot all the rest, till I found myself at the window, whose 
gloomy curtains were withdrawn, and where I stood gazing 
on a whole heaven of stars, small and sparkling in the 
moonlight. Below lay a sea, still as death, and hoary in 
the moon, sweeping into bays and around capes and islands, 
away, away, I knew not whither. Alas ! it was no sea, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 11 

but a low fog burnished by the moon. " Surely there is 
such a sea somewhere ! " said I to myself. A low, sweet 
voice beside me replied : — 
" In Fairy-land, Anodos." 

I turned, but saw no one. I closed the secretary, and 
went to my own room, and to bed. 

■ All this I recalled as I lay with half-closed eyes. I was 
soon to find the truth of the lady's promise, that this day 
I should discover the road into Fairy-land. 



12 PHANTASIES: 



II. 



" Wo ist der Strom? " rief er mit Thranen. " Siehst du nicht seine 
bLauen Wellen iiber uns ? " Er sah hinauf, und der blaue Strom floss 
leise iiber ihrem Haupte. — Novalis. Heinrich von Ofterdingen. 

""Where is the stream?" cried he, with tears. " Seest thou not 
its blue waves above us ? " He looked up, and lo ! the blue stream 
was flowing gently over their heads. 

While these strange events were passing through my 
mind, I suddenly, as one awakes to the consciousness that 
the sea has been moaning by him for hours, or that the 
storm has been howling about his window all night, became 
aware of the sound of running water near me ; and, looking 
out of bed, I saw that a large green marble basin, in which 
I was wont to wash, and which stood on a low pedestal of 
the same material in a corner of my room, was overflowing 
like a spring ; and that a stream of clear water was run- 
ning over the carpet, all the length of the room, finding 
its outlet I knew not where. And, stranger still, where 
this carpet, which I had myself designed to imitate a field 
of grass and daisies, bordered the course of the little 
stream, the grass-blades and daisies seemed to wave in a 
tiny breeze that followed the water's flow ; while under 
the rivulet they bent and swayed with every motion of the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE, 13 

changeful current, as if they were about to dissolve with 
it, and, forsaking their fixed form, become fluent as the 
waters. 

Mj dressing-table was an old-fashioned piece of furni- 
ture of black oak, with drawers all down the front. These 
were elaborately carved in foliage, of which ivy formed 
the chief part. The nearer end of this table remained 
just as it had been, but on the further end a singular 
change had commenced. I happened to fix my eye on a 
little cluster of ivy-leaves. The first of these Avas evi- 
dently the work of the carver ; the next looked curious ; 
the third was unmistakable ivy ; and just beyond it a 
tendril of clematis had twined itself about the gilt handle 
of one of the drawers. Hearing next a slight motion above 
me, I looked up, and saw that the branches and leaves de- 
signed upon the curtains of my bed were slightly in mo- 
tion. Not knowing what change might follow next, I 
thought it high time to get up ; and, springing from the 
bed, my bare feet alighted upon a cool green sward ; and 
although I dressed in all haste, I found myself completing 
my toilet under the boughs of a great tree, whose top 
waved in the golden stream of the sunrise with many 
interchanging lights, and with shadows of leaf and branch 
gliding over leaf and branch, as the cool morning wind 
swung it to and fro, like a sinking sea-wave. 

After washing as well as I could in the clear stream, I 
rose and looked around me. The tree under which I 



14 PHANTASTES : 

seemed to have lain all night, was one of the advanced 
guard of a dense forest, towards which the rivulet ran. 
Faint traces of a footpath, much overgrown with grass and 
moss, and with here and there a pimpernel even, were 
discernible along the right bank. " This," thought I, 
"must surely be the path into Fairy-land, which the 
lady of last night promised I should so soon find." I 
crossed the rivulet, and accompanied it, keeping the foot- 
path on its right bank, until it led me, as I expected, into 
the wood. Here I left it, without any good reason, and 
with a vague feeling that I ought to have followed its 
course : I took a more southerly direction. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 15 



III. 

Man doth usurp all space, 

Stares thee, in rock, bush, river, in the face. 

Never yet thine eyes behold a tree ; 

'Tis no sea thou se§st in the sea, 

'Tis but a disguised humanity. 

To avoid thy fellow, vain thy plan ; 

All that interests a man, is man. 

Henry Sutton. 
• 

The trees, which were far apart where I entered, giving 
free passage to the level rays of the sun, closed rapidly as I 
advanced, so that ere long their crowded stems barred the 
sunlight out, forming, as it were, a thick grating between 
me and the east. I seemed to be advancing towards a 
second midnight. In the midst of the intervening twilight, 
however, before I entered what appeared to be the darkest 
portion of the forest, I saw a country maiden coming to- 
wards me from its very depths. She did not seem to 
observe me, for she was apparently intent upon a bunch of 
wild flowers which she carried in her hand. I could 
hardly see her face ; for, though she came right towards 
me, she never looked up. But when we met, instead of 
passing, she turned and walked alongside of me for a few 
yards, still keeping her face downwards, and busied with 



16 PHANTASTES : 

her flowers. She spoke rapidly, however, all the time, m 
a low tone, as if talking to herself, but evidently addressing 
the purport of her words to me, She seemed afraid of 
being observed by some lurking foe. " Trust the Oak," 
said she; "trust the Oak and the Elm and the great 
"Beech. Take care of the Birch ; for. though she is honest, 
she is too young not to be changeable. But shun the Ash 
and the Alder ; for the Ash is an ogre, — you will know 
him by his thick fingers ; and the Alder will smother you 
with her web of hair, if you let her near you at night." 
All this was uttered without pause or alteration of tone. 
Then she turned suddenly and left me, walking still with 
the same unchanging gait. I could not conjecture what 
she meant ; but satisfied myself with thinking that it would 
be time enough to find out her meaning when there was 
need to make use of her warning ; and that the occasion 
would reveal the admonition. I concluded, from the flowers 
that she carried, that the forest could not be everywhere so 
dense as it appeared from where I was now walking ; and I 
was right in this conclusion. For soon I came to a more 
open part, and by and by crossed a wide, grassy glade, on 
which were several circles of brighter green. But even 
here I was struck with the utter stillness. No bird sang. 
No insect hummed. Not a living creature crossed my 
way. Yet somehow the whole environment seemed only 
asleep, and to wear even in sleep an air of expectation. 
The trees seemed all to have an expression of conscious 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 17 

mystery, as if they said to themselves, ' ' "We could, an' if 
we would." They had all a meaning look about them. 
Then I remembered that night is the fairies' day, and the 
moon their sun ; and I thought, — everything sleeps and 
dreams now; when the night comes, it will be different. 
At the same time I, being a man and a child of the day, felt 
some anxiety as to how I should fare among the elves and 
other children of the night who wake when mortals dream, 
and find their common life in those wondrous hours that 
flow noiselessly over the moveless, death-like forms of men 
and women and children, lying strewn and parted beneath 
the weight of the heavy waves of night, which flow on and 
beat them down, and hold them drowned and senseless, 
until the ebb-tide comes, and the waves sink away, back 
into the ocean of the dark. But I took courage and went 
on. Soon, however, I became again anxious, though from 
another cause. I had eaten nothing that day, and for an 
hour past had been feeling the want of food. So I grew 
afraid lest I should find nothing to meet my human neces- 
sities in this strange place ; but once more I comforted 
myself with hope and went on. 

Before noon, I fancied I saw a thin blue smoke rising 
amongst the stems of larger trees in front of me ; and soon 
I came to an open spot of ground, in which stood a little 
cottage, so built that the stems of four great trees formed 
its corners, while their branches met and intertwined over 
its roof, heaping a great cloud of leaves over it, up towards 



18 PHANTASIES : 

the heavens. I wondered at finding a human dwelling in 
this neighborhood ; and yet it did not look altogether 
human, though sufficiently so to encourage me to expect 
some sort of food. Seeing no door, I went round to the 
other side, and there I found one, wide open. A woman 
sat beside it, preparing some vegetables for dinner. This 
was homely and comforting. As I came near, she looked 
up, and, seeing me, showed no surprise, but bent her head 
again over her work, and said, in a low tone : — 

' ' Did you see my daughter ? ' ' 

"I believe I did," said I. "Can you give me some- 
thing to eat, for I am very hungry ? " 

"With pleasure," she replied, in the same tone ; "but 
do not say anything more, till you come into the house, for 
the Ash is watching us." 

Having said this, she rose and led the way into the cot- 
tage ; which, I now saw, was built of the stems of small 
trees set closely together, and was furnished with rough 
chairs and tables, from which even the bark had not been 
removed. As soon as she had shut the door and set a 
chair : — 

"You have fairy blood in you," said she, looking hard 
at me. 

" How do you know that? " 

' ' You could not have got so far into this wood if it were 
not so ; and I am trying to find out some trace of it in 
your countenance. I think I see it." 



< A FAERIE ROMANCE. 19 

"What do you see?" 

"Oil, never mind ; I may be mistaken in that." 
" But how, then, do you come to live here? " 
" Because I, too, have fairy blood in me." 
Here I, in my turn, looked hard at her; and thought 
I could perceive, notwithstanding the coarseness of her 
features, and especially the heaviness of her eyebrows, a 
something unusual, — I could hardly call it grace, and yet 
it wag an expression that strangely contrasted with the 
form of her features. I noticed, too, that her hands were 
delicately formed, though brown with work and exposure. 
" I should be ill," she continued, " if I did not live on 
the borders of the fairies' country, and now and then eat 
of their food. And I see by your eyes that you are not 
quite free of the same need ; though, from your education 
and the activity of your mind, you have felt it less than I. 
You may be further removed, too, from the fairy race." 

I remembered what the lady had said about my grand- 
mothers. 

Here she placed some bread and some milk before me, 
with a kindly apology for the homeliness of the fare, with 
which, however, I was in no humor to quarrel. I now 
thought it time to try to get some explanation of the 
strange words both of her daughter and herself 

" What did you mean by speaking so about the Ash ? " 
She arose and looked out of the little window. My eyes 
followed her ; but as the window was too small to allow 



•20 PHANTASIES : 

anything to be seen from where I was sitting, I rose and 
looked over her shoulder. I had just time to see, across 
the open space, on the edge of the denser forest, a single 
large ash-tree, whose foliage showed bluish amidst the 
truer green of the other trees around it ; when she pushed 
me back with an expression of impatience and terror, and 
then almost shut out the light from the window bj setting 
up a large old book in it. 

"In general," said she, recovering her composure, 
" there is no danger in the daytime, for then he is sound 
asleep ; but there is something unusual going on in the 
woods ; there must be some solemnity among the fairies to- 
night, for all the trees are restless, and, although they can- 
not come awake, they see and hear in their sleep." 

" But what danger is to be dreaded from him ? " 

Instead of answering the question, she went again to the 
window and looked^out, saying she feared the fairies would 
be interrupted by foul weather, for a storm was brewing in 
the west. 

' ' And the sooner it grows dark, the sooner the Ash will 
be awake," added she. 

I asked her how she knew that there was any unusual 
excitement in the woods. She replied : — 

" Besides the look of the trees, the dog there is un- 
happy ; and the eyes and ears of the white rabbit are redder 
than usual, and he frisks about as if he expected some fun. 
If the cat were at home, she would have her back up ; for 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 21 

the young fairies pull the sparks out of her tail with 
bramble-thorns, and she knows when they are coming. So 
do I, in another way." 

At this instant, a gray cat rushed in like a demon, and 
disappeared in a hole in the wall. 

'- There, I told you ! " said the woman. 

"But what of the ash-tree?" said I, returning once 
more to the subject. Here, however, the young woman, 
whom I had met in the morning, entered. A smile passed 
between the mother and daughter; and then the latter 
began to help her mother in little household duties. 

" I should like to stay here till the evening," I said ; 
" and then go on my journey, if you will allow me." 

"You are welcome to do as you please ; only it might 
be better to stay all night than risk the dangers of the 
wood then. Where are you going? " 

" Nay, that I do not know," I replied ; " but I wish to 
see all that is to be seen, and therefore I should like to 
start just at sundown." 

" You are a bold youth, if you have any idea of what 
you are daring ; but a rash one, if you know nothing about 
it ; and, excuse me, you do not seem very well informed 
about the country and its manners. However, no one 
comes here but for some reason, either known to himself or 
to those who have charge of him ; so you shall do just as 
you wish." 

Accordingly I sat down, and feeling rather tired, and 



22 PHANTASIES : 

disinclined for further talk, I asked leave to look at the old 
book which still screened the window. The woman brought 
it to me directly, but not before taking another look 
towards the forest, and then drawing a white blind over 
the window. I sat down opposite to it by the table, on 
which I laid the great old volume, and read. It con- 
tained many wondrous tales of Fairy-land, and olden 
times, and the Knights of King Arthur's table. I read on 
and on, till the shades of the afternoon began to deepen ; 
for in the midst of the forest it gloomed earlier than. in the 
open country. At length I came to this passage : — 

"Here it chaunced, that, upon their quest. Sir Galahad 
and Sir Percivale rencountered in the depths of a great 
forest. Now Sir Galahad was dight all in harness of 
silver, clear and shining ; the which is a delight to look 
upon, but full hasty to tarnish, and, withouten the labour of 
a ready squire, uneath to be kept fair and clean. And 
yet withouten squire or page. Sir Galahad's armour shone 
like the moon. And he rode a great white mare, whose 
bases and other housings were black, but all besprent with 
fair lilys of silver sheen. Whereas Sir Percivale bestrode 
a red horse, with a tawny mane and tale ; whose trappings 
were all to-smirched with mud and mire ; and his armour 
was wondrous rosty to behold, ne could he by any art fur- 
bish it again ; so that as the sun in his going down slione 
twixt the bare trunks of the trees, full upon tlic knights 
twain, the one did seem all shining with light, and the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 23 

other all to glow with ruddy fire. Now it came about in 
this wise. For Sir Percivale, after his escape from the 
demon ladj, whenas the cross on the handle of his sword 
smote him to the heart, and he rove himself through the 
thigh, and escaped away, he came to a great wood ; and in 
nowise cured of his fault, yet bemoaning the same, the 
damosel of the alder- tree encountered him, right fair to 
see ; and with her fair words and false countenance she 
comforted him and beguiled him, until he followed her 
where she led him to a — " 

Here a low, hurried cry from my hostess caused me to 
look up from the book, and I read no more. 

" Look there ! " she said; " look at his fingers ! " 

Just as I had been reading in the book, the setting sun 
was shining through a cleft in the clouds piled up in the 
west; and a shadow, as of a large, distorted hand, with 
thick knobs and humps on the fingers, so that it was much 
wider across the fingers than across the undivided part of 
the hand, passed slowly over the little blind, and then as 
slowly returned in the opposite direction. 

" He is almost awake, mother; and greedier than usual 
to-night." 

" Hush, child ! you need not make him more angry with 
us than he is ; for you do not know how soon something 
may happen to oblige us to be in the forest after nightfall." 

"But you are in the forest," said I; "how is it that 
you are safe here? " 



24 PHANTASTES: 

I 
I 

"He dares not come nearer than he is now," she re-; 
plied ; "for any of those four oaks, at the corners of our 
cottage, would tear him to pieces : they are our friends. . 
But he stands there and makes awful faces at us some- 1 
times, and stretches out his long arms and fingers, and 
tries to kill us with fright ; for, indeed, that is his favorite 
way of doing. Pray, keep out of his way to-night." 

" Shall I be able to see these beinsis ? " said I. 

' ' That I cannot tell yet, not knowing how much of 
the fairy nature there is in you. But we shall soon see 
whether you can discern the fairies in my little garden, 
and that will be some guide to us." 

"Are the trees fairies too, as well as the flowers?" I 
asked. 

"They are of the same race," she replied; "though 
those you call fairies in your country are chiefly the young 
children of the flower fairies. They are very fond of having 
fun with the thick people, as they call you ; for, like 
most children, they like fun better than anything else." 

"Why do you have flowers so near you then? Do 
they not annoy you ? " 

" Oh, no, they are very amusing, with their mimicries 
of grown people, and mock solemnities. Sometimes they 
will act a whole play through, before my eyes, with perfect 
composure and assurance, for they are not afraid of me. 
Only, as soon as they have done, they burst into peals of 
tiny laughter, as if it was such a joke to have been serious 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 25 

over anything. These I speak of, however, are the fairies 
of the garden. They are more staid and educated than 
those of the fields and woods. Of course thej have near 
relations amongst the wild flowers ; but they patronize 
them, and treat them as country cousins, who know noth- 
ing of life, and very little of manners. Now and then, 
however, they are compelled to envy the grace and sim- 
plicity of the natural flowers." 

" Do they live in the flowers ? " I said. 

" I cannot tell," she replied. "There is something in 
it I do not understand. Sometimes they disappear alto- 
gether, even from me, though I know they are near. 
They seem to die always with the flowers they resemble, 
and by whose names they are called ; but whether they 
return to life with the fresh flowers, or, whether it be new 
flowers, new fairies, I cannot tell. They have as many 
sorts of dispositions as men and women, while their moods 
are yet more variable : twenty difierent expressions will 
cross their little faces in half a minute. I often amuse 
myself with watching them, but I have never been able to 
make personal acquaintance with any of them. If I speak 
to one, he or she looks up in my face, as if I were not 
worth heeding, gives a little laugh, and runs away." Here, 
the woman started, as if suddenly recollecting herself, and 
said in a low voice to her daughter, ' ' Make haste — go 
and watch him, and see in what direction he goes." 

I may as well mention here, that the conclusion I ar- 



26 PHANTASTES: 

rived at, from the observations I was afterwards able to 
make, was, that the flowers die because the fairies go away; 
not that the fairies disappear because the flowers die. The 
flowers seem a sort of houses for them, or outer bodies, 
which they can put on or oflf when they please. Just as 
you could form some idea of the nature of a man from the 
kind of house he built, if he followed his own taste, so you 
could, without seeing the fairies, tell what any one of 
them is like, by looking at the flower till you feel that 
you understand it. For just what the flower says to you 
would the face and form of the fairy say ; only so much 
more plainly as a face and human figure can express more 
than a flower. For the house or the clothes, though like 
the inhabitant or the wearer, cannot be wrought into an 
equal power of utterance. Yet you would see a strange 
resemblance, almost oneness, between the flower and the 
fairy, which you could not describe, but which described 
itself to you. Whether all the flowers have fairies, I can- 
not determine, any more than I can be sure whether all 
men and women have souls. 

The woman and I continued the conversation for a few 
minutes longer. I was much interested by the information 
she gave me, and astonished at the language in which she 
was able to convey it. It seemed that intercourse with 
the fairies was no bad education in itself. But now the 
daughter returned with the news that the Ash had just 
gone away in a south-westerly direction j and, as my 



^ 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 27 

course seemed to lie eastward, she hoped I should be in no 
danger of meeting him if I departed at once. I looked out 
of the little window, and there stood the ash-tree, to my 
eyes the same as before ; but I believed that they knew 
better than I did, and prepared to go. I pulled out my 
purse ; but to my dismay there was nothing in it. The 
woman with a smile begged me not to trouble myself, for 
money was not of the slightest use there ; and as I might 
meet with people in my journeys whom I could not recog- 
nize to be fairies, it was well I had no money to offer, for 
nothing offended them so much. 

"They would think," she added, "that you were mak- 
ing game of them ; and that is their peculiar privilege 
with regard to us." So we went together into the little 
garden, which sloped down towards a lower part of the 
wood. 

Here, to my great pleasure, all was life and bustle. 
There was still light enough from the day to see a little ; 
and the pale half-moon, half-way to the zenith, was reviving 
every moment. The whole garden was like a carnival, 
with tiny, gayly decorated forms, in groups, assemblies, 
processions, pairs or trios, moving stately on, running about 
wildly, or sauntering hither and thither. From the cups 
or bells of tall flowers, as from balconies, some looked down 
on the masses below, now bursting with laughter, now 
grave as owls ; but, even in their deepest solemnity, seeming 
only to be waiting for the arrival of the next laugh. Some 



28 PHANTASTES : 

were launched on a little marshy stream at the bottom, in 
boats chosen from the heaps of last year's leayes that lay 
about, curled and withered. These soon sank ^Yith them ; 
whereupon they swam ashore and got others. Those who 
took fresh rose-leaves for their boats floated the longest ; 
but for these they had to fight ; for the fairy of the rose-tree 
complained bitterly that they were stealing her clothes, 
and defended her property bravely. 

" You can't wear half you've got," said some. 

"Never you mind; I don't choose you to have them; 
they are my property." 

" All for the good of the community ! " said one, and ran 
off with a great hollow leaf But the rose-fairy sprang 
after him (what a beauty she was ! only too like a drawing- 
room young lady), knocked him heels over head as he ran, 
and recovered her great red leaf But in the mean time 
twenty had hurried off in different directions with others 
just as good ; and the little creature sat down and cried, 
and then, in a pet, sent a perfect pink snow-storm of petals 
from her tree, leaping from branch to branch, and stamp- 
ing and shaking and pulling. At last, after another good 
cry, she chose the biggest she could find, and ran away, 
laughing, to launch her boat amongst the rest. 

But my attention was first and chiefly attracted by a 
group of fairies near the cottage, who were talking together 
around what seemed a last dying primrose. They talked 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 29 

singing, and their talk made a song, something like 
this : — 

"Sister Snowdrop died 

Before we were born." 
" She came like a bride 
In a snowy morn." 
" What's a bride ? " 

" What is snow?" 
" Never tried." 
"Do not know." 

" Who told you about her? " 

" Little Primrose there 
Cannot do without her." 

" Oh, so sweetly fair! " 
"Never fear, 

She will come, 
Primrose dear." 

"Is she dumb?" 

" She'll come by and by." 

" You will never see her." 
" She went home to die, 
Till the new year." 
" Snowdrop ! " " 'Tis no good 

To invite her." 
" Primrose is very rude." 
" I will bite her." 

" O you naughty Pocket! 

Look, she drops her head." 
" She deserved it, Kocket, 

And she was nearly dead." 



30 PHANTASTES : 

" To your hammock — off with you ! " 

"And swing alone." 
' ' No one will laugh with you." 

" No, not one." 

"Now let us moan." 

" And cover her o'er." 
' ' Primrose is gone." 

" All but the flower." 
" Here is a leaf." 

" Lay her upon it." 
" Follow in grief." 

" Pocket has done it. 

" Deeper, poor creature! 

Winter may come." 
" He cannot reach her, — 

That is a hum." 
" She is buried, the beauty! " 

" Now she is done." 

" That was the duty." 

" Now for the fun." 

And "with a wild laugh they sprang away, most of them 
towards the cottage. During the latter part of the song- 
talk, they had formed themselves into a funeral procession, 
two of them hearing poor Primrose, whose death Pocket had 
hastened by biting her stalk, upon one of her own great 
leaves. They bore her solemnly along some distance, and 
then buried her under a tree. Although I say her, I saw 
nothing but the withered primrose-flower on its long stalk. 
Pocket, who had been expelled from the company by com- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 31 

mon consent, went sulkily away towards her hammock, for 
she was the fairy of the calceolaria, and looked rather 
wicked. When she reached its stem, she stopped and 
looked round. I could not help speaking to her, for I 
stood near her. I said, " Pocket, how could you be 
so naughty?" 

"I am never naughty," she said, half-crossly, half- 
defiantly; "only, if you come near my hammock, I will 
bite you, and then you will go away." 

" Why did you bite poor Primrose ? " 

•' Because she said we should never see Snowdrop ; as if 
we were not good enough to look at her, and she was, the 
proud thing ! — served her right ! " 

" Pocket, Pocket ! " said I ; but by this time the party 
which had gone towards the house rushed out again, shout- 
ing and screaming with laughter. Half of them were on 
the cat's back, and half held on by her fur and tail, or ran 
beside her ; till, more coming to their help, the furious cat 
was held fast ; and they proceeded to pick the sparks out 
of her with thorns and pins, which -they handled like har- 
poons. Indeed, there were more instruments at work 
about her than there could have been sparks in her. One 
little fellow who held on hard by the tip of the tail, with 
his feet planted on the ground at an angle of forty-five 
degrees, helping to keep her fast, administered a continuous 
flow of admonitions to Pussy. 

" Now, Pussy, be patient. You know quite well it is 



32 PHANTASIES : 

all for your good. You cannot be comfortable with all 
those sparks in you ; and, indeed, I am charitably disposed 
to believe" (here he became very pompous) " that they 
are the cause of all your bad temper ; so we must have 
them all out, every one, else we shall be reduced to the 
painful necessity of cutting your claws, and pulling, out 
your eye-teeth. Quiet ! Pussy, quiet ! " 

But, with a perfect hurricane of feline curses, the poor 
animal broke loose, and dashed across the garden and 
through the hedge, faster than even the fairies could fol- 
low. "Never mind, never mind, we shall find her again; 
and by that time she will have laid in a fresh stock of 
sparks. Hooray ! " And off they set, after some new 
mischief. 

But I will not linger to enlarge on the amusing displays 
of these frolicsome creatures. Their manners and habits 
are now so well known to the world, having been so often 
described by eye-witnesses, that it would be only indulging 
self-conceit to add my account in full to the rest. I can- 
not help wishing, however, that my readers could see them 
for themselves. Especially do I desire that they should 
see the fairy of the daisy, — a little, chubby, round-eyed 
child, with such innocent trust in his look ! Even the 
most mischievous of the fairies would not tease him, 
although he did not belong to their set at all, but was quite 
a little country bumpkin. He wandered about alone, and 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 33 

looked at everything, with his hands in his little pockets, 
and a white nightcap on, — the darling ! He was not so 
beautiful as many other wild flowers I saw afterwards, but 
so dear and loving in his looks and little, confident ways. 



34 PHANTASTES : 



IV. 

When bale is att hyest, boote is nyest. 

Ballad of Sir Aldingar. 

By this time my hostess was quite anxious that I should 
be gone. So, with warm thanks for their hospitality, I 
took my leave, and went my way through the little garden 
towards the forest. Some of the garden flowers had wan- 
dered into the wood, and were growing here and there 
along the path, but the trees soon became too thick and 
shadowy for them. I particularly noticed some tall lilies, 
which grew on both sides of the way, with large, dazzlingly 
white flowers, set off by the universal green. It was now 
dark enough for me to see that every flower was shining 
with a light of its own. Indeed it was by this light that I 
saw them, — an internal, peculiar light, proceeding fi*om 
each, and not reflected from a common source of light as in 
the daytime. This light sufficed only for the plant itself, 
and was not strong enough to cast any but the faintest 
shadows around it, or to illuminate any of the neighboring 
objects with other than the faintest tinge of its own individ- 
ual hue. From the lilies above mentioned, from the cam- 
panulas, from the foxgloves, and every bell-shaped flower, 
curious little figures shot up their heads, peeped at me, and 



A FAERIE HOMANCE. 35 

drew back. They seemed to inhabit them, as snails their 
shells ; but I was sure some of them were intruders, and 
belonged to the gnomes or goblin-fairies, who inhabit the 
ground and earthy creeping-plants. From the cups of 
Arum lilies, creatures with great heads and grotesque faces 
shot up like Jack-in-the-box, and made grimaces at me ; or 
rose slowly and slily over the edge of the cup, and spouted 
water at me, slipping suddenly back, like those little sol- 
dier-crabs that inhabit the shells of sea-snails. Passing a 
row of tall thistles, I saw them crowded with little faces, 
which peeped every one from behind its flower, and drew 
back as quickly ; and I heard them saying to each other, 
evidently intending me to hear, but the speaker always 
hiding behind his tuft, when I looked in his direction, 
" Look at him ! Look at him ! He has begun a story 
without a beginning, and it will never have any end. He ! 
he ! he ! Look at him ! " 

But, as I went further into the wood, these sights and 
sounds became fewer, giving way to others of a different 
character. A little forest of wild hyacinths was alive with 
exquisite creatures, who stood nearly motionless, with 
drooping necks, holding each by the stem of her flower, 
and swaying gently with it, whenever a low breath of wind 
swung the crowded floral belfry. In like manner, though 
differing of course in form and meaning, stood a group of 
harebells, like little angels waiting, ready, till they were 
wanted to go on some yet unknown message. In darker 



36 PHANTASIES : 

nooks, bj the mossy roots of the trees, or in little tufts of 
grass, each dwelling in a globe of its own green light, weav- 
ing a network of grass and its shadows, glowed the glow- 
worms. They were just like the glowworms of our OAvn 
land, for they are fairies everywhere ; worms in the day, 
and glowworms at night, when their own can appear, and 
they can be themselves to others as well as themselves. 
But they had their enemies here. For I saw great, strong- 
armed beetles, hurrying about with most unwieldy haste, 
awkward as elephant-calves, looking apparently for glow- 
worms ; for the moment a beetle espied one, through what 
to it was a forest of grass, or an underwood of moss, it 
pounced upon it, and bore it away, in spite of its feeble 
resistance. Wondering what their object could be, I 
watched one of the beetles, and then I discovered a thing 
I could not account for. But it is no use trying to account 
for things in Fairy-land ; and one who travels there soon 
learns to forget the very idea of doing so, and takes every- 
thing as it comes ; like a child, who, being in a chronic 
condition of wonder, is surprised at nothing. What I saw 
was this. Everywhere, here and there over the ground, 
lay little, dark-looking lumps of something more like earth 
than anything else, and about the size of a chestnut. The 
beetles hunted in couples for these ; and, having found one, 
one of them stayed to watch it, while the other hurried to 
find a glowworm. By signals, I presume, between them, 
the latter soon found his companion again ; they then took 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 87 

the glowworm and held its luminous tail to the dark, earthj 
pallet ; when, lo ! it shot up into the air like a sky-rocket, 
seldom, however, reaching the height of the highest tree. 
Just like a rocket, too, it burst in the air, and fell in a 
shower of the most gorgeously colored sparks of every va- 
riety of hue ; golden and red, and purple and green, and 
blue and rosy fires crossed and intercrossed each other, be- 
neath the shadowy heads, and between the columnar stems 
of the forest trees. They never used the same glowworm 
twice, I observed, but let him go, apparently uninjured by 
the use they had made of him. 

In other parts, the whole of the immediately surrounding 
foliage was illuminated by the interwoven dances in ihe 
air of splendidly colored fireflies, which sped hither and 
thither, turned, twisted, crossed and recrossed, entw-ning 
every complexity of intervolved motion. Here and there 
whole mighty trees glowed with an emitted phosphorescent 
light. You could trace the very course of the great roots 
in the earth by the faint light that came through ; and 
■ every twig and every vein on every leaf Avas a streak of 
I pale fire. 

' All this time, as I went on through the wood, I was 
i haunted with the feeling that other shapes, more like my 
ij own in size and mien, were moving about at a little dis- 
tance on all sides of me. But as yet I could discern none 
jof them, although the moon was high enough to send a 
I great many of her rays down between the trees, and these 



88 PHANTASTES : 

rajs Avere unusually bright, and sight-giving, notwith- 
standing she was onlj a half moon. I constantly imagined, 
however, that forms were visible in all directions except 
that to which my gaze was turned ; and that they only 
became invisible, or resolved themselves into other wood- 
land shapes, the moment my looks were directed towards 
them. However this may have been, except for this feeling 
of presence, the woods seemed utterly bare of anything 
like human companionship, although my glance often fell 
on some object which I fancied to be a human form ; for 
I soon found that I was quite deceived, as, the moment I 
fixed my regard on it, it showed plainly that it was a bush, 
or a tree, or a rock. 

Soon a vague sense of discomfort possessed me. With 
variations of relief, this gradually increased ; as if some 
evil thing were wandering about in my neighborhood, some- 
times nearer and sometimes further off, but still approach- 
ing. The feeling continued and deepened, until all my 
pleasure in the shows of various kinds that everywhere 
betokened the presence of the merry fairies, vanished by 
degrees, and left me full of anxiety and fear, which I was 
unable to associate with any definite object whatever. At 
length the thought crossed my mind with horror: "Can 
it be possible that the Ash is looking for me ? or that, 
in his nightly wanderings, his path is gradually verging 
towards mine?" I comforted myself, however, by re- 
membering that he had started quite in another direction, — 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 39 

one that would lead him, if he kept it. far apart from me ; 
especially as, for the last two or three hours, I had been 
diligently journeying eastward. I kept on my way, there- 
fore, striving by direct effort of the will against the en- 
croaching fear ; and to this end occupying my mind, as 
much as I could, with other thoughts. I was so far suc- 
cessful that, although I was conscious, if I yielded for a 
moment, I should be almost overwhelmed with horror, I 
was yet able to walk right on for an hour or more. What 
I feared I could not tell. Indeed I was left in a state of 
the vaguest uncertainty as regarded the nature of my 
enemy, and knew not the mode or object of his attacks ; 
for, somehow or other, none of my questions had succeeded 
in drawing a definite answer from the dame in the cottage. 
How then to defend myself I knew not ; nor even by what 
sign I might with certainty recognize the presence of my 
foe ; for as yet this vague though powerful fear was all the 
indication of danger I had. To add to my distress, the 
clouds in the west had risen nearly to the top of the skies, 
and they and the moon were travelling slowly towards 
each other. Indeed, some of their advanced guard had 
already met her, and she had begun to wade through a 
filmy vapor that gradually deepened. At length she was 
for a moment almost entirely obscured. When she shone 
out again, with a brilliancy increased by the contrast, I 
saw plainly on the path before me, — from around which at 
this spdt the trees receded, leaving a small space of green- 



40 PHANTASTES : 

sward, — the shadow of a large hand, with knotty joints 
and protuberance* here and there. Especially I remarked, 
even in the midst of my fear, the bulbous points of the fin- 
gers. I looked hurriedly all round, but could see nothing 
from which such a shadow should fall. Now, however.^ 
that I had a direction, however undetermined, in which to 
project my apprehension, the very sense of danger and 
need of action overcame that stifling which is the worst 
property of fear. I reflected in a moment, that, if this 
were indeed a shadow, it was useless to look for the object 
that cast it in any other direction than between the 
shadow and the moon. I looked, and peered, and intensi- 
fied my vision, all to no purpose. I could see nothing of 
that kind, not even an ash-tree in the neighborhood. Still 
the shadow remained ; not steady, but moving to and fro ; 
and once I saw the fingers close, and grind themselves 
close, like the claws of a wild animal, as if in uncontrolla- 
ble longing for some anticipated prey. There seemed but 
one mode left of discovering the substance of this shadow. 
I went forward boldly, though with an inward shudder 
which I would not heed, to the spot where the shadow lay, 
threw myself on the ground, laid my head within the form 
of the hand, and turned my eyes towards the moon. 
Good heavens ! what did I see ? I wonder that ever I 
arose, and that the very shadow of the hand did not hold 
me where I lay until fear had frozen my brain. I saw the 
strangest figure, — vague, shadowy, almost transparent, in 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 41 

the central parts, and gradually deepening in substance 
towards the outside, until it ended in extremities capable 
of casting such a shadow as fell from the hand, through 
the awful fingers of which I now saw the moon. The 
hand was uplifted in the attitude of a paw about to strike 
its prey. But the face, which throbbed with fluctuating 
and pulsatory visibility, — not from changes in the light it 
reflected, but from changes in its own conditions of reflect- 
ing power, the alterations being from within, not from 
without, ' — it was horrible. I do not know how to de- 
scribe it. It caused a new sensation ; just as one cannot 
translate a horrible odor, or a ghastly pain, or a fearful 
sound, into words, so I cannot describe this new form 
of awful hideousness. I can only try to describe some- 
thing that is not it, but seems somewhat parallel to it, or 
at least is suggested by it. It reminded me of what I had 
heard of vampires ; for the face resembled that of a corpse 
more than anything else I can think of ; especially when I 
can conceive such a face in motion, but not suggesting any 
life as the source of the motion. The features were 
rather handsome than otherwise, except the mouth, which 
had scarcely a curve in it. The lips were of equal thick- 
ness ; but the thickness was not at all remarkable, even 
although they looked slightly swollen. They seemed 
fixedly open, but were not wide apart. Of course, I did 
not remark these lineaments at the time ; I was too horri- 
fied for that. I noted them afterwards, when the form re- 



42 PHANTASTES : 

turned on my inward sight with a vividness too intense to 
admit of mj doubting the accuracy of the reflex. But the 
most awful of the features were the eyes. These were 
alive, yet not with life. They seemed lighted up with an 
infinite greed, A gnawing voracity, which devoured the 
devourer, seemed to be the indwelling and propelling 
power of the whole ghastly apparition. I lay for a few 
moments simply imbruted with terror ; when another 
cloud, obscuring the moon, delivered me from the immedi- 
ately paralyzing effects of the presence to the vision of the 
object of horror, while it added the force of imagination to 
the power of fear within me ; inasmuch as, knowing far 
worse cause for apprehension than before, I remained 
equally ignorant from what I had to defend myself, or how 
to take any precautions. He might be upon me in the 
darkness any moment. I sprang to my feet, and sped I 
knew not whither, only away from the spectre. I thought 
no longer of the path, and often narrowly escaped dashing 
myself against a tree, in my headlong flight of fear. 

Great drops of rain began to patter on the leaves. 
Thunder began to mutter; then growl in the distance. I 
ran on. The rain fell heavier. At length the thick leaves 
could hold it up no longer ; and, like a second firmament, 
they poured their torrents on the earth, I was soon 
drenched ; but that was nothing. I came to a small, swollen 
stream that rushed through the woods. I had a vague 
hope that, if I crossed this stream, I should be in safety 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 43 

.from my pursuer ; but I soon found that my hope was as 
false as it was vague. I dashed across the stream, ascended 
a rising ground, and reached a more open space, where 
stood only great trees. Through them I directed my way, 
holding eastward as nearly as I could guess, but not at all 
certain that I was not moving in an opposite direction. 
My mind was just reviving a little from its extreme terror, 
when, suddenly, a flash of lightning, or rather a cataract 
of successive flashes, behind me, seemed to throw on the 
ground in front of me, but far more faintly than before, 
from the extent of the source of the light, the shadow of 
the same horrible hand. I sprang forward, stung to yet 
wilder speed ; but had not run many steps before my foot 
slipped, and, vainly attempting to recover myself, I fell at 
the foot of one of the large trees. Half-stunned, I yet 
raised myself, and almost involuntarily looked back. All 
I saw was the hand within three feet of my face. But, at 
the same moment, I felt two large, soft arms thrown round 
me from behind; and a voice, like a woman's, said, "Do 
not fear the goblin; he dares not hurt you now." With 
that, the hand was suddenly withdrawn as from a fire, and 
disappeared in the darkness and the rain. Overcome with 
the mingling of terror and joy, I lay for some time almost 
insensible. The first thing I remember is the sound of a 
voice above me, full and low, and strangely reminding me 
of the sound of a gentle wind amidst the leaves of a great 
tree. It murmured over and over again, "I may love 



44 PHANTASTES : 

him, I may love him ; for he is a man, and I am only a 
beech-tree." I found I was seated on the ground, leaning 
against a human form, and supported still by the arms 
around me, which I knew to be those of a woman who must 
be rather above the human size, and largely proportioned. 
I turned my head, but without moving otherwise, for I 
feared lest the arms should untwine themselves ; and clear, 
somewhat mournful eyes met mine. At least that is how 
they impressed me ; but I could see very little of color or 
outline as we sat in the dark and rainy shadow of the tree. 
The face seemed very lovely, and solemn from its stillness, 
with the aspect of one who is quite content, but waiting for 
something. I saw my conjecture from her arms was cor- 
rect : she was above the human scale throughout, but not 
greatly. 

" Why do you call yourself a beech-tree? " I said. 

" Because I am one," she replied, in the same low, musi- 
cal, murmuring voice. 

" You are a woman," I returned. 

" Do you think so ? Am I very like a woman then? " 

" You are a very beautiful woman. Is it possible you 
should not know it ? " 

" I am very glad you think so. I fancy I feel like a 
woman sometimes. I do so to-night — and always when 
the rain drips from my hair. For there is an old prophecy 
in our woods that one day we shall all be men and women 
like you. Do you know anything about it in your region ? 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 45 

Shall I be very happy when I am a woman ? I fear not ; 
for it is always in nights like these that I feel like one. 
But I long to be a woman, for all that." 

I had let her talk on, for her voice was like a solution 
of all musical sounds. I now told her that I could hardly 
say whether women were happy or not. I knew one who 
had not been happy ; and, for my part, I had often longed 
for Fairy-land, as she now longed for the world of men. 
But then neither of us had lived long, and perhaps people 
grew happier as they grew older. Only I doubted it. I 
could not help sighing. She felt the sigh, for her arms 
were still round me. She asked me how old I was. 

" Twenty-one," said I. 

"Why, you baby!" said she; and kissed me with the 
sweetest kiss of winds and odors. There was a cool faith- 
fulness in the kiss, that revived my heart wonderfully. I 
felt that I feared the dreadful Ash no more. 

"What did the horrible Ash want with me ? " I said. 

" I am not quite sure, but I think he wants to bury you 
at the foot of his tree. But he shall not touch you, my^ 
child." 

" Are all the ash-trees as dreadful as he ? " 

" Oh, no. They are all disagreeable, selfish creatures 
— (what horrid men they will make, if it be true !) — but 
this one has a hole in his heart that nobody knows of but 
one or two ; and he is always trying to fill it up, but he 
cannot. That must be what he wanted you for. I won- 



46 PHANTASIES : 

der if he will ever be a man. K he is, I hope they will 
kill him." 

" How kind of you to save me from him ! " 

" I will take care that he shall not come near you again. 
But there are some in the wood more like me, from whom, 
alas ! I cannot protect you. Only if you see any of them 
very beautiful, try to walk round them." 

"What then?" 

" I cannot tell you more. But now I must tie some of 
my hair about you, and then the Ash will not touch you. 
Here, cut some off. You men have strange cutting things 
about you." 

She shook her long hair loose over me, never moving her 
arms. 

" I cannot cut your beautiful hair. It would be a 
shame." 

"Not cut my hair ! It will have grown long enough 
before any is wanted again in this wild forest. Perhaps it 
may never be of any use again, — not till I am a woman." 
And she sighed. 

As gently as I could, I cut with a knife a long tress of 
flowing, dark hair, she hanging her beautiful head over me. 
When I had finished, she shuddered and breathed deep, as 
one does when an acute pain, steadfastly endured without 
sign of suffering, is at length relaxed. She then took the 
hair and tied it round me, singing a strange, sweet song, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. . 47 

whjch I could not understand, but which left in me a 
feeling like this : — 

" I saw thee ne'er before ; 
I see thee never more ; 
But love, and help, and pain, beautiful one, 
Have made thee mine, till all my years are done." 

I cannot put more of it into words. She closed her arms 
about me again, and went on singing. The rain in the 
leaves, and a light wind that had arisen, kept her song 
company. I was wrapped in a trance of still delight. It 
told me the secret of the woods and the flowers and the 
birds. At one time I felt as if I was wandering in 
childhood through sunny spring forests, over carpets of 
primroses, anemones, and little white starry things, — I had 
almost said, creatures, — and finding new wonderful flowers 
at every turn. At another, I lay half dreaming in the 
hot summer noon, with a book of old tales beside me. be- 
neath a great beech ; or, in autumn, grew sad because I 
trod on the leaves that had sheltered me, and received their 
last blessing in the sweet odors of decay ; or, in a winter 
evening, frozen still, looked up, as I went home to a warm 
fireside, through the netted boughs and twigs to the cold, 
snowy moon, with her opal zone around her. At last I had 
fallen asleep ; for I know nothing more that passed, till I 
found myself lying under a superb beech-tree, in the clear 
light of the morning, just before sunrise. Around me was 
a girdle of fresh beech-leaves. Alas ! I brouo;ht nothing 



48 PHANTASIES : 

with me out of Fairy-land, but memories — memories. 
The great boughs of the beech hung drooping around me. 
At my head rose its smooth stem, with its great sweeps 
of curving surface that swelled like undeveloped limbs. 
The leaves and branches above kept on the song w^hich had 
sung me asleep ; only now, to my mind, it sounded like a 
farewell and a speedwell. I sat a long time, unwilling to 
go ; but my unfinished story urged me on* I must act 
and wander. With the sun well risen, I rose, and put my 
arms as far as they would reach around the beech-tree, and 
kissed it, and said good-by. A trembling went through 
the leaves ; a few of the last drops of the night's rain fell 
from off them at my feet ; and, as I walked slowly away, 
I seemed to hear in a whisper once more the words : " I 
may love him, I may love him ; for he is a man, and I am 
only a beech-tree." 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 49 



V. 

And she was smooth and full, as If one gush 
Of life had washed her, or as if a sleep 
Lay on her eyelid, easier to sweep 

Than bee from daisy. 

Beddoe's Pygmalion. 

Sche was as whyt as lylye yn May, 
Or snow that sneweth yn wynterys day. 

Somance of Sir Launfal. 

I WALKED on, in the fresh morning air, as if new-born. 
The only thing that damped my pleasure was a cloud of 
something between sorrow and delight, that crossed my 
mind with the frequently returning thought of my last 
night's hostess. "But then," thought I, '-if she is sorry, 
I could not help it ; and she has all the pleasures she ever 
had. Such a day as this is surely a joy to her, as much 
at least as to me. And her life will perhaps be the richer, 
for holding now within it the memory of what came, but 
could not stay. And if ever she is a woman, who knows 
but we may meet somewhere ? there is plenty of room for 
meeting in the universe." Comforting myself thus, yet 
with a vague compunction, as if I ought not to have left 
her, I went on. There was little to distinguish the woods 
to-day from those of my own land ; except that all the wild 



50 PHANTASTES : 

things, rabbits, birds, squirrels, mice, and the numberless 
other inhabitants, were very tame ; that is, they did not 
run away from me, but gazed at me as I passed, frequently 
coming nearer, as if to examine me more closely. Whether 
this came from utter ignorance, or from familiarity with the 
human ajDpearance of beings who never hurt them, I could 
not tell. As I stood once, looking up to the splendid 
flower of a parasite, which hung from the branch of a tree 
over my head, a large white rabbit cantered slowly up, put 
one of its little feet on one of mine, and looked up at me 
with its red eyes, just as I had been looking up at the 
flower above me. I stooped and stroked it; but when I 
attempted to lift it, it banged the ground with its hind feet, 
and scampered off at a great rate, turning, however, to look 
at me several times before I lost sight of it. Now and 
then, too, a dim human figure would appear and disappear, 
at some distance, amongst the trees, moving like a sleep- 
walker. But no one ever came near me. 

This day I found plenty of food in the forest, — strange 
nuts and fruits I had never seen before. I hesitated to eat 
them ; but argued that, if I could live on the air of Fairy- 
land, I could live on its food also. I found my reasoning 
correct, and the result was better than I had hoped ; for it 
not only satisfied my hunger, but operated in such a way 
upon my senses, that I was brought into far more complete 
relationship with the things around me. The human forms 
appeared much more dense and defined; more tangibly 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 51 

visible, if I may say so. I seemed to know better which 
direction to choose when any doubt arose. I began to feel 
in some degree what the birds* meant in their songs, though 
I could not express it in words, any more than you can 
some landscapes. At times, to my surprise, I found my- 
self listening attentively, and as if it were no unusual 
thing with me, to a conversation between two squirrels or 
monkeys. The subjects were not very interesting, except 
as associated with the individual life and necessities of the 
little creatures : where the best nuts were to be found in 
the neighborhood, and who could crack them best, or who 
had most laid up for the winter, and such like ; only they 
never said where the store was. There was no great dif- 
ference in kind between their talk and our ordinary human 
conversation. Some of the creatures I never heard speak 
at all, and believe they never do so, except under the im- 
pulse of some great "excitement. The mice talked ; but 
the hedgehogs seemed very phlegmatic ; and though I met 
a couple of moles above ground several times, they never 
said a word to each other in my hearing. There were no 
wild beasts in the forest ; at least I did not see one larger 
than a wild-cat. There were plenty of snakes, however, 
and I do not think they were all harmless ; but none ever 
bit me. 

Soon after mid-day, I arrived at a bare, rocky hill, of no 
great size, but very steep; and having no trees — scarcely 
even a bush — upon it. entirely exposed to the heat of the 



52 PHANTASTES : 

sun. Over this my way seemed to lie, and I immediately 
began the ascent. On reaching the top, hot and weary, I 
looked around me, and saw that the forest still stretched as 
far as the sight could reach on every side of me. I ob- 
served that the trees, in the direction which I was about 
to descend, did not come so near the foot of the hill as on 
the other side, and was especially regretting the unexpected 
postponement of shelter, because this side of the hill 
seemed more difficult to descend than the other had been 
to climb, when my eye caught the appearance of a natural 
path, winding down through broken rocks and along the 
course of a tiny stream, which I hoped would lead me more 
easily to the foot. I tried it, and found the descent not at 
all laborious; nevertheless, when I reached the bottom, I 
was very tired and exhausted with the heat. But just 
where the path seemed to end rose a great rock quite 
overgrown with shrubs and creeping-plants, some of them 
in full and splendid blossom ; these almost concealed an 
opening in the rock, into which the path appeared to lead. 
I entered, thirsting for the shade which it promised. What 
was my delight to find a rocky cell, all the angles rounded 
away with rich moss, and every ledge and projection 
crowded with lovely ferns, the variety of whose forms and 
groupings and shades wrought in me like a poem ; for such 
a harmony could not exist, except they all consented to 
some one end ! A little well of the clearest water filled a 
mossy hollow in one corner. I drank, and felt as if I 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 53 

knew what the elixir of life must be; then threw my- 
self on a mossy mound, that lay like a couch along the 
inner end. Here I lay like a delicious reverie for some 
time ; during which all lovely forms, and colors, and 
sounds seemed to use my brain as a common hall, where 
they could come and go, unbidden and unexcused. • I had 
never imagined that such capacity for simple happiness lay 
in me, as was now awakened by this assembly of forms and 
spiritual sensations, which yet were far too vague to admit 
of being translated into any shape common to my own and 
another mind. I had lain for an hour, I should suppose, 
though it may have been far longer, when, the harmonious 
tumult in my mind having somewhat relaxed, I became 
aware that my eyes were fixed on a strange, time-worn bas- 
relief on the rock opposite to me. This, after some pon- 
dering, I concluded to represent Pygmalion, as he awaited 
the quickening of his statue. The sculptor sat more rigid 
than the figure to which his eyes were turned. That 
seemed about to step from its pedestal and embrace the 
man, who waited rather than expected. 

" A lovely story," I said to myself. " This cave, now, 
with the bushes cut away from the entrance to let the light 
in, might be such a place as he would choose, withdrawn 
from the notice of men, to set up his block of marble, and 
mould into a visible body the thought already clothed with 
form in the unseen hall of the sculptor's brain. And, 
indeed, if I mistake not," I said, starting up, as a sudden 



54 PHANTASTES : 

ray of light arrived at that moment through a crevice in 
the roof, and lighted up a small portion of the rock, bare 
of vegetation, "this very rock is marble, white enough and 
delicate enough for any statue, even if destined to become 
an ideal woman in the arms of the sculptor." 

I took my knife and removed the moss from a part of 
the block on which I had been lying ; when, to my sur- 
prise, I found it more like alabaster than ordinary marble, 
and soft to the edge of the knife. In fact, it was alabaster. 
By an inexplicable, though by no means unusual, kind of 
impulse, I went on removing the moss from the surface of 
the stone ; and soon saw that it was polished, or at least 
smooth, throughout. I continued my labor; and, after 
clearing a space of about a couple of square feet, I observed 
what caused me to prosecute the work with more interest 
and care than before. Tor the ray of sunlight had now 
reached the spot I had cleared, and under its lustre the 
alabaster revealed its usual slight transparency when pol- 
ished, except where my knife had scratched the surface ; 
and I observed that the transparency seemed to have a 
definite limit, and to end upon an opaque body like the 
more solid white marble. I was careful to scratch no 
more. And first, a vague anticipation gave way to a 
startling sense of possibility ; then, as I proceeded, one 
revelation after another produced the entrancing conviction, 
that, under the crust of alabaster, lay a dimly visible form 
in marble, but whether of man or woman I could not yet 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 55 

tell. I worked on as rapidly as the necessary care would 
permit ; and when I had uncovered the whole mass, and, 
rising from my knees, had retreated a little way, so that 
the effect of the whole might fall on me, I saw before me 
with suflBcient plainness — though at the same time with 
considerable indistinctness, arising from the limited amount 
of light the place admitted, as well as from the nature of 
the object itself — a block of pure alabaster enclosing the 
form, apparently in marble, of a reposing woman. She lay 
on one side, with her hand under her cheek, and her face 
towards me ; but her hair had fallen partly over her face, 
so that I could not see the expression of the whole. What 
I did see appeared to me perfectly lovely ; more near the 
face that had been born with me in my soul than anything. 
I had seen before in nature or art. The actual outlines of 
the rest of the form were so indistinct, that the more than 
semi-opacity of the alabaster seemed insufficient to account 
for the fact ; and I conjectured that a light robe added its 
obscurity. Numberless histories passed through my mind, 
of change of substance from enchantment and other causes, 
and of imprisonments such as this before me. I thought of 
the Prince of the Enchanted City, half marble and half a liv- 
ing man ; of Ariel ; of Niobe ; of the Sleeping Beauty in 
the Wood ; of the bleeding trees ; and many other histories. 
Even my adventure of the preceding evening with the lady 
of the beech-tree contributed to arouse the wild hope, that 
by some means life might be given to this form also, and 



56 PHANTASIES : 

that, breaking from her alabaster tomb, she might glorify 
my eyes with her presence. "For," I argued, "who 
can tell but this cave may be the home of Marble, and this, 
essential Marble, — that spirit of marble which, present 
throughout, makes it capable of being moulded into any 
form ? Then if she should awake ! But how to awake 
her ? A kiss awoke the Sleeping Beauty : a kiss cannot 
reach her through the incrusting alabaster." I kneeled, 
however, and kissed the pale coffin ; but she slept on. I 
bethought me of Orpheus, and the following stones ; that 
trees should follow his music seemed nothing surprising 
now. Might not a song awake this form, that the glory 
of motion might for a time displace the loveliness of rest ? 
Sweet sounds can go where kisses may not enter. I sat 
and thought. 

Now, although always delighting in music, I had never 
been gifted with the power of song, until I entered the 
fairy forest. I had a voice, and I had a true sense of 
sound ; but when I tried to sing, the one would not con- 
tent the other, and so I remained silent. This morninsr, 
however, I had found myself, ere I was aware, rejoicing in 
a song ; but, whether it was before or after I had eaten of 
the fruits of the forest, I could not satisfy myself. I con- 
cluded it was after, however; and that the .increased im- 
pulse to sing I now felt, was in part owing to having drunk 
of the little well, which shone like a brilliant eye in a 
corner of the cave. I sat down on the ground by the 



A FAERIE KOMANCE. 57 

"antenatal tomb," leaned upon it with mj face towards the 
head of the figure within, and sang, — the words and tones 
coming together, and inseparably connected, as if word and 
tone formed one thing ; or as if each word could be uttered 
onlj in that tone, and was incapable of distinction from it, 
except in idea, bj an acute analysis. I sang something 
like this ; but the words are only a dull representation of 
a state whose very elevation precluded the possibility of 
remembrance ; and in which I presume the words really 
employed were as far above these, as that state transcended 
this wherein I recall it : — 

" Mai'ble woman, vainly sleeping 

In the very death of dreams ! 
Wilt thou — slumber from thee sweeping, 

All but what with vision teems — 
Hear my voice come through the golden 

Mist of memory and hope ; 
And with shadowy smile embolden 

Me with primal Death to cope ? 

" Thee the sculptors all pursuing, 
Have embodied but their own ; 
Round their visions, form induing, 
Marble vestments thou hast thrown ; 
- But thyself, in silence winding. 
Thou hast kept eternally ; 
Thee they found not, many finding ; 
I have found thee : wake for me." 

As I sang, I looked earnestly at the face so vaguely re- 
vealed before me. I fancied, yet believed it to be but 



68 PHANTASIES : 

fancy, that, through the dim veil of the alabaster, I saw a 
motion of the head as if caused by a sinking sigh. I gazed 
more earnestly, and concluded that it was but fancy. 
Nevertheless I could not help singing again : — 

"Eest is now filled full of beauty, 
And can give thee up, I ween ; 
Come thou forth, for other duty : 
Motion pineth for her queen. 

" Or, if needing years to wake thee 
From thy slumbrous solitudes. 
Come, sleep-walking, and betake thee 
To the friendly, sleeping woods. 

" Sweeter dreams are in the forest; 

Bound thee storms would never rave ; 
And when need of rest is sorest, 
Glide thou then into thy cave. 

" Or, if still thou choosest rather 
Marble, be its spell on me ; 
Let thy slumber round me gather. 
Lot another dream with thee ! " 

Again I paused, and gazed through the stony shroud, as 
if, by very force of penetrative sight, I would clear every 
lineament of the lovely face. And now I thought the 
hand that had lain under the cheek had slipped a little 
downward. But then I could not be sure that I had at 
first observed its position accurately. So I sang again j 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 59 

for the longing had grown into a passionate need of seeing 
her alive : 

" Or art thou Death, woman? for since I 
Have set me singing by thy side, 
Life hath forsook tlie upper sky, 
And all the outer world hath died. 

" Yea, I am dead; for thou hast drawn 
My life all downward unto thee. 
Dead moon of love ! let twilight dawn ; 
Awake ! and let the darkness flee. 

*' Cold lady of the lovely stone ! 

Awake ! or I shall perish here ; 
And thou be never more alone, 
My form and I for ages near. 

" But words are vain ; reject them all, — 
They utter but a feeble part : 
Hear thou the depths from which they call. 
The voiceless longing of my heart." 

There arose a slightly crashing sound. Like a sudden 
apparition that conies and is gone, a white form, veiled in a 
light robe of whiteness, burst upwards from the stone, 
stood, glided forth, and gleamed away towards the woods. 
For I followed to the mouth of the cave, as soon as the 
amazement and concentration of delight permitted the 
nerves of motion again to act, and saw the white form 
amidst the trees, as it crossed a little glade on the edge of 
the forest where the sunlight fell full, seeming to gather 
with intenser radiance on the one object that floated rather 



60 PHANTASTES : 

than flitted through its lake of beams, I gazed after her 
in a kind of despair ; found, freed, lost ! It seemed useless 
to follow, yet follow I must. I marked the direction she 
took ; and, without once looking round to the forsaken cave, 
I hastened towards the forest. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 61 



VL 



Ach, hiite sich doch ein Mensch, vrenn seine erfiillten Wiinsche auf 
ihn herad regnen, und er so iiber alle Maasse frohlich ist ! — Pouque, 
Der Zauberring. 

Ah, let a man beware, when his wishes, fulfilled, rain down upon him, 
and his happiness is unbounded. 



Thy red lips, like worms, 
Travel over my cheek. 

Motherwell ( ?) 

But, as I crossed the space between the foot of the hill 
and the forest, a vision of another kind delayed my steps. 
Through an opening to the westward flowed, like a stream, 
the rays of the setting sun, and overflowed with a ruddy 
splendor the open place where I was. And, riding as it 
were down this stream towards me, came a horseman, in 
what appeared red armor. From frontlet to tail, the horse 
likewise shone red in the sunset. I felt as if I must have 
seen the knight before ; but, as he drew near, I could recall 
no feature of his countenance. Ere he came up to me, 
however, I remembered the legend of Sir Percival in the 
rusty armor, which I had left unfinished in the old book in 
the cottage : it was of Sir Percival that he reminded me. 
And no wonder ; for when he came close up to me, I saw 



62 PHANTASTES : 

that, from crest to heel, the whole surface of his armor was 
covered with a light rust. The golden spurs shone, but 
the iron greaves glowed in the sunlight. The morning 
star, which hung from his wrist, glittered and glowed with 
its silver and bronze. His whole appearance was terrible ; 
but his face did not answer to this appearance. It was 
sad, even to gloominess, and something of shame seemed 
to cover it. Yet it was noble and high, though thus be- 
clouded; and the form looked loftj, although the head 
drooped, and the whole frame was bowed as with an inward 
grief. The horse seemed to share in his master's dejection, 
and walked spiritless and slow. I noticed, too, that the 
white plume on his helmet was discolored and drooping. 
"He has fallen in a joust with spears," I said to myself; 
"yet it becomes not a noble knight to be conquered in 
spirit because his body hath fallen," He appeared not to 
obserA'^e me, for he was riding past without looking up, and 
started into a warlike attitude the moment the first sound 
of my voice reached him. Then a flush, as of shame, cov- 
ered all of his face that the lifted beaver disclosed. Pie 
returned my greeting with distant courtesy, and passed on. 
But suddenly he reined up, sat a moment still, and then 
turning his horse, rode back to where I stood looking after 
him, 

" I am ashamed," he said, "to appear a knight, and in 
such a guise ; but it behoves me to tell you to take warn- 
ing from me, lest the same evil, in his kind, overtake the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 63 

singer that has befallen the knight. Hast thou ever read 
the story of Sir Percival and the ' ' — here he shuddered, 
that his armor rang — " Maiden of the Alder- tree ? " 

"In part, I have." said I, " for yesterday, at the en- 
trance of this forest, I found in a cottage the volume 
wherein it is recorded." 

"Then take heed," he rejoined; "for, see my armor; 
— I put it off; and as it befell to him, so has it befallen to 
me. I that "was proud am humble now. Yet is she 
terribly beautiful, — beware ! Never," he added, raising 
his head, "shall this armor be furbished, but by the blows 
of knightly encounter, until the last speck has disappeared 
from every spot where the battle-axe and sword of evil- 
doers, or noble foes, might fall, when I shall again lift my 
head, and say to my squire, ' Do thy duty pnee more, and 
make this armor shine.' " 

Before I could inquire further, he had struck spurs into 
his horse and galloped away, shrouded from my voice in 
the noise of his armor. For I called after him, anxious to 
know more about this fearful enchantress ; but in vain , — 
he heard me not. "Yet," I said to myself, " I have now 
been often w".rned ; surely I shall be well on my guard, 
and I am fully resolved I shall not be ensnared by any 
beauty, however beautiful. Doubtless, some one man 
may escape, and I shall be he." So I went on into the 
wood, still hoping to find, in some one of its mysterious 
recesses, my lost lady of the marble. The sunny afternoon 



64 PHANTASIES : 

died into the loveliest twilight. Great bats began to flit 
about with their own noiseless flight, seemingly purposeless, 
because its objects are unseen. The monotonous music of 
the owl issued from all unexpected quarters in the half- 
darkness around me. The glowworm was alight here and 
there, burning out into the great universe. The night- 
hawk heightened all the harmony and stillness with his oft- 
recurring discordant jar. Numberless unknown sounds 
came out of the unknown dusk ; but all were of twilight 
kind, oppressing the heart as with a condensed atmosphere 
of dreamy, ucdefined love and longing. The odors of night 
arose, and bathed me in that luxurious mournfulness pecu- 
liar to them, as if the plants whence they floated had 
been watered with bygone tears. Earth drew me towards 
her bosom ; I felt as if I could fall down and kiss her. I 
forgot I was in Fairy-land, and seemed to be walking in a 
perfect night of our own old nursing earth. Great stems 
rose about me, uplifting a thick, multitudinous roof above 
me of branches, and twigs, and leaves, — the bird and 
insect world uplifted over mine, with its own landscapes, 
its own thickets, and paths, and glades, and dwellings ; its 
own bird-ways and insect-delights. Great boughs crossed 
my path ; great roots based the tree-columns, and mightily 
clasped the earth, strong to lift and strong to uphold. It 
seemed an old, old forest, perfect in forest ways and pleas- 
ures. And when, in the midst of this ecstasy, I remem- 
bered that under some close canopy of leaves, by some 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 65 

giant stem, or in some mossy cave, or beside some leafy 
well, sat the lady of the marble, whom my songs had called 
forth into the outer world, waiting (might it not be ? ) to 
meet and thank her deliverer in a twilight which would 
veil her confusion, the whole night became one dream- 
realm of joy, the central form of which was everywhere 
present, although unbeheld. Then, remembering how my 
songs seemed to have called her from the marble, piercing 
through the pearly shroud of alabaster, — "Why," thought 
I, "should not my voice reach her now, through the ebon 
night that enwraps her?" My voice burst into song so 
spontaneously that it seemed involuntarily : — 

" Not a sound 
But, echoing in me, 
' Vibrates all around 

With a blind delight, 
Till it breaks on thee, 

Queen of Night ! 

" Every tree, 
O'ershadowing with gloom, 

Seems to cover thee 

Secret, dark, love-stilled, 
In a holy room 

Silence-filled. 

" Let no moon 

Creep up the heaven to-night. 

I in darksome noon. 

Walking hopefully, 
Seek my shrouded light, — • 

Grope for thee ! 



66 PHANTASIES : 

"Darker gro-w 
The borders of the dark I 

Through the branches glow ! 

Prom the roof above, 
Star and diamond-spark, 

Light for love." 



Scarcely had the last sounds floated away from the hear- 
ing of my own ears, when I heard instead a low, delicious 
laugh near me. It was not the laugh of one who would 
not be heard, but the laugh of one who has just received 
something long and patiently desired, — a laugh that ends, 
in a low, musical moan. I started, and, turning sideways, 
saw a dim, white figure seated beside an intertwining 
thicket of smaller trees and underwood. 

" It is my white lady ! " I said, and flung myself on the 
ground beside her ; striving, through the gathering dark- 
ness, to get a glimpse of the form which had broken its 
marble prison at my call. 

"It is your white lady," said the sweetest voice, in re- 
ply, sending a thrill of speechless delight through a heart 
which all the love-charms of the preceding day and evening 
had been tempering for this culminating hour. Yet, if I 
would have confessed it, there was something either in the 
sound of the voice, although it seemed sweetness itself, or 
else in this yielding which awaited no gradation of gentle 
approaches, that did not vibrate harmoniously with the beat 
of my inward music. And likewise, when, taking her 



A FAEKIE ROMANCE. 67 

. hand in mine, I drew closer to her, looking for the beauty 
of her face, which, indeed, I found too plenteously, a cold 
shiver ran through me ; but " It is the marble," I said to 
myself, and heeded it not. 

She withdrew her hand from mine, and after that would 
scarce allow me to touch her. It seemed strange, after the 
fulness of her first greeting, that she could not trust me 
to come close to her. Thousih her words were those of a 

o 

lover, she kept herself withdrawn as if a mile of space in- 
terposed between us. 

" Why did you run away from me when you woke in 
the cave? " I said. 

"Did I?" she returned. "That was very unkind of 
me ; but I did not know better." 

" I wish I could see you. The night is very dark." 

" So it is. Come to my grotto. There is light there." 

" Have you another cave, then ? " 

" Come and see."' 

But she did not move until I rose first, and then she was 
on her feet before I could offer my hand to help her. She 
came close to my side and conducted me through the wood. 
But once or twice, when, involuntarily almost, I was about 
to put my arm around her as we walked on through the 
warm gloom, she sprang away several paces, always keeping 
her face full towards me, and then stood looking at me, 
slightly stooping, in the attitude of one who fears some 
half-seen enemy. It was too dark to discern the expres- 



68 PHANTASIES : 

sion of her face. Then she would return and walk close 
beside me again, as if nothing had happened. I thought, 
this strange ; but, besides that I had almost, as I said 
before, given up the attempt to account for appearances 
in Fairy-land, I judged that it would be very unfair to 
expect from one who had slept so long and had been so 
suddenly awakened, a behavior correspondent to what I 
might unreflectingly look for. I knew not what she might 
have been dreaming about. Besides, it was possible that, 
while her words were free, her sense of touch might be 
exquisitely delicate. 

At length, after walking a long way in the woods, we 
arrived at another thicket, through the intertexture of 
which was glimmering a pale, rosy light. 

"Push aside the branches," she said, "and make room 
for us to enter." 

I did as she told me. 

" Go in," she said; " I will follow you." 

I did as she desired, and found myself in a little cave, 
not very unlike the marble cave. It was festooned and 
draperied with all kinds of green that cling to shady rocks. 
In the farthest corner, half hidden in leaves, through which 
it glowed, mingling lovely shadows between them, burned a 
bright, rosy flame on a little earthen lamp. The lady 
glided round by the wall from behind me, still keeping her 
face towards me, and seated herself in the farthest corner, 
with her back to the lamp, which she hid completely from 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 69 

my view. I then saw indeed a form of perfect loveliness 
•before me. Almost it seemed as if the light of the rose 
lamp shone through her (for it could not be reflected from 
her), such a delicate shade of pink seemed to shadow what 
in itself must be a marbly whiteness of hue. I discovered 
afterwards, however, that there was one thing in it I did 
not like ; which was, that the white part of the eye was 
tinged with the same slight roseate hue as the rest of the 
form. It is strange that I cannot recall her features ; but 
they, as well as her somewhat girlish figure, left on me 
simply and only the impression of intense loveliness. I 
lay down at her feet, and gazed up into her face as I lay. 

She began and told me a strange tale, which, likewise, 
I cannot recollect, but which, at every turn and every 
pause,, somehow or other fixed my eyes an4 thoughts upon 
her extreme beauty, seeming always to culminate in 
something that had a relation, revealed or hidden, but 
always operative, with her own loveliness. I lay entranced. 
It was a tale which brings back a feeling as of snows and 
tempests ; torrents and water-sprites ; lovers parted for 
long, and meeting at last ; with a gorgeous summer night 
to close up the whole. I listened till she and I were 
blended with the tale, till she and I were the whole history. 
And we had met at last in this same cave of greenery, 
while the summer night hung round us heavy with love, 
and the odors that crept through the silence from the sleep- 
ing woods were the only signs of an outer world that in- 



70 PHANTASTES : 

vaded our solitude. What followed I cannot clearly 
remember. The succeeding horror almost obliterated it. 
I woke as a gray dawn stole into the cave. The damsel 
had disappeared ; but, in the shrubbery at the mouth of the 
cave, stood a strange, horrible object. It looked like an 
open coffin set up on one end, only that the part for the 
head and neck was defined from the shoulder-part. In 
fact it was a rough representation of the human frame, only 
hollow, as if made of decaying bark torn from a tree. It 
had arms, which were only slightly seamed, down from the 
shoulder-blade by the elbow, as if the bark had healed again 
from the cut of a knife. But the arms moved, and the 
hands and fingers were tearing asunder a long, silky tress 
of hair. The thins' turned round ; it had for a face and 
front those of my enchantress, but now of a pale greenish 
hue in the light of the morning, and with dead, lustreless 
eyes. In the horror of the moment, another fear invaded 
me. I put my hand to my waist, and found indeed that 
my girdle of beech-leaves was gone. Hair again in her 
hands, she was tearing it fiercely. Once more, as she 
turned, she laughed a low laugh, but now full of scorn and 
derision; and then she said, as if to a companion with 
whom she had been talking while I slept, "There he is; 
you can take him now." I lay still, petrified with dismay 
and fear ; for I now saw another figure beside her, which, al- 
though vague and indistinct, I yet recognized but too well. 
It was the Ash-tree. My beauty was the Maid of the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 71 

Alder ! and she was giving me, spoiled of mj only availing 
defence, into the hands of my awful foe. The Ash bent 
his gorgon-head, and entered the cave. I could not stir. 
He drew near me. His ghoul-eyes and his ghastly face 
fascinated me. He came stooping, with the hideous hand 
outstretched, like a beast of prey. I had given myself up 
to a death of unfathomable horror, when, suddenly, and 
just as he was on the point of seizing me, the dull, heavy 
blow of an axe echoed through the wood, followed by othera 
in quick repetition. The Ash shuddered and groaned, 
withdrew the outstretched hand, retreated backwards to the 
mouth of the cave, then turned and disappeared amongst 
the trees. The other walking Death looked at me once, 
with a careless dislike on her beautifully moulded features ; 
then, heedless any more to conceal her hollow deformity, 
turned her frightful back and likewise vanished amid the 
green obscurity without. I lay and wept. The Maid of 
the Alder-tree had befooled me, — nearly slain me, — in 
spite of all the warnings I had received from those who 
knew my danger. 



72 PHANTASTES : 



YIL 

Fight on, my men, Sir Andrew sayes, 

A little Ime hurt, but yett not slaine ; 
lie but lye downe and bleede awhile, 

And then He rise and fight againe. 

Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton. 

But I could not remain where I was any longer, though 
the daylight was hateful to me, and the thought of the 
great, innocent, bold sunrise unendurable. Here there 
was no well to cool my face, smarting with the bitterness 
of my own tears. Nor would I have washed in the well 
of that grotto, had it flowed clear as the rivers of Paradise. 
I rose, and feebly left the sepulchral cave. I took my 
way I knew not whither, but still towards the sunrise. 
The birds were singing, but not for me. All the creatures 
spoke a language of their own, with which I had nothing 
to do, and to which I cared not to find the key any more. 
I walked listlessly along. What distressed me most — 
more even than my own folly — was the perplexing ques- 
tion, How can beauty and ugliness dwell so near ? Even 
with her altered complexion and her face of dislike ; disen- 
chanted of the belief that clung around her ; known for a 
living, walking sepulchre, faithless, deluding, traitorous, — 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 73 

I felt, notwithstanding all this, that she was beautiful. 
Upon this I pondered with undiminished perplexity, though 
not without some gain. Then I began to make surmises as 
to the mode of my deliverance, and concluded that some 
hero, wandering in search of adventure, had heard how the 
forest was infested, and, knowing it was useless to attack 
the evil thing in person, had assailed with his battle-axe 
the body in which he dwelt, and on which he was depend- 
ent for his power of mischief in the wood. " Very likely," 
I thought, "the repentant knight, who warned me of the 
evil which has befallen me, was busy retrieving his lost 
honor, while I was sinking into the same sorrow with him- 
self; and, hearing of the dangerous and mysterious being, 
arrived at his tree in time to save me from being dragged 
to its roots, and buried like carrion, to nourish him for yet 
deeper insatiableness." I found afterwards that my con- 
jecture was correct. I wondered how he had fared when 
his blows recalled the Ash himself, and that, too, I learned 
afterwards. 

I walked on the whole day with intervals of rest, but 
without food, — for I could not have eaten, had any been 
ofiered me, — till, in the afternoon, I seemed to approach the 
outskirts of the forest, and at length arrived at a farm- 
house. An unspeakable joy arose in my heart at behold- 
ing an abode of human beings once more, and I hastened 
up to the door, and knocked. A kind-looking, matronly 
woman, still handsome, made her appearance; who, as 



74 PHANTASIES : 

soon as she saw me, said kindly, "Ah, my poor boy, you 
have come from the wood ! Were you in it last night? " 

I should have ill endured, the day before, to be called 
hoy ; but now the motherly kindness of the word went to 
my heart ; and, like a boy indeed, I burst into tears. She 
soothed me right gently; and, leading me into a room, 
made me lie down on a settle, while she went to find me 
some refreshment. She soon returned with food ; but I 
could not eat. She almost compelled me to swallow some 
wine, when I revived sufficiently to be able to answer some 
of her questions. I told her the whole story. 

" It is just as I feared," she said ; " but you are now 
for the night beyond the reach of any of these dreadful 
creatures. It is no wonder that they could delude a child 
like you. But I must beg you, when my husband comes 
in, not to say a word about these things ; for he thinks me 
even half crazy for believing anything of the sort. But I 
must believe my senses, as he cannot believe beyond his, 
which give him no intimations of this kind. I think he 
could spend the whole of Midsummer-eve in the wood, and 
come back with the report that he saw nothing worse than 
himself Indeed, good man, he would hardly find anything 
better than himself, if he had seven more senses given him." 

" But tell me how it is that she could be so beautiful 
without any heart at all, — without any place even for a 
heart to live in." 

"I cannot quite tell," she said; "but I am sure she 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 77 

would not look so beautiful if she did not take means to 
make herself look more beautiful than she is. And then, 
you know, you began by being in love with her before you 
saw her beauty, mistaking her for the lady of the marble, 
— another kind altogether, I should think. But the chief 
thing that makes her beautiful is this : that, although she 
loves no man, she loves the love of any man ; and when 
she finds one in her power, her desire to bewitch him and 
gain his love (not for the sake of his love either, but that 
she may be conscious anew of her own beauty, through the 
admiration he manifests) makes her very lovely, — with a 
self-destructive beauty, though ; for it is that which is con- 
stantly wearing her away within, till, at last, the decay will 
reach her face, and her whole front, when all the lovely 
mask of nothing will fall to pieces, and she be vanished 
forever. So a wise man, whom she met in the wood some 
years ago, and who, I think, for all his wisdom, fared no 
better than you, told me, when, like you, he spent the next 
night here, and recounted to me his adventures." 

I thanked her very warmly for her solution, though it 
was but partial; wondering much that in her, as in the 
woman I met on my first entering the forest, there should 
be such superiority to her apparent condition. Here she 
left me to take some rest; though, indeed, I was too much 
agitated to rest in any other way than by simply ceasing 
to move. 

In half an. hour I heard a heavy step approach and 



74 



PHANTASTES : 



enter the house. A jolly voice, whose slight huskiness 
appeared to proceed from overmuch laughter, called out, 
"Betsy, the pigs' trough is quite empty, and that is a 
pity. Let them swill, lass. They're of no use but to get 
fat. Ha! ha! ha! Gluttony is not forbidden in their 
commandments. Ha! ha! ha!" The very voice, kind 
and jovial, seemed to disrobe the room of the strange look 
which all new places wear, — to disenchant it out of the 
realm of the ideal into the actual. It began to look as if 
I had known every corner of it for twenty years ; and 
when, soon after, the dame came and fetched me to partake 
of their early supper, the grasp of his great hand, and the 
harvest moon of his benevolent face, which was needed to 
light up the rotundity of the globe beneath it, produced 
such a reaction in me, that, for a moment, I could hardly 
believe that there was a Fairy-land ; and that all I had 
passed through, since I left home, had not been the wander- . 
ing dream of a diseased imagination, operating on a too 
mobile frame, not merely causing me indeed to travel, but 
peopling for me with vague phantoms the regions through 
which my actual steps had led me. But the next moment 
my eye fell upon a little girl who was sitting in the chim- 
ney-corner, with a little book open on her knee, from which 
she had apparently just looked up, to fix great, inquiring 
eyes upon me. I believed in Fairy-land again. She 
went on with her reading, as soon as she saw that I ob- 
served her looking at me. I went near, and, peeping over 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 77 

her shoulder, sa\7 that she was reading ' ' The History of 
Graciosa and Percinet." 

"Very improving book, sir," remarked the old farmer, 
with a good-humored laugh. " We are in the very hottest 
corner of Fairy-land here. Ha ! ha ! Stormy night last 
night, sir." 

"Was it, indeed?" I rejoined. "It was not so with 
me. A lovelier night I never saw." 

" Indeed! Where were you last night ? " 

" I spent it in the forest. I had lost my way." 

" Ah ! then, perhaps you will be able to convince my 
good woman that there is nothing very remarkable about 
the forest; for, to tell the truth, it bears but a bad name 
in these parts. I dare say you saw nothing worse than 
yourself there ? " 

"I hope I did," was my inward reply; but, for an 
audible one, I contented myself with saying, "Why, I 
certainly did see some appearances I could hardly account 
for ; but that is nothing to be wondered at in an unknown 
wild forest, and with the uncertain light of the moon alone 
to go by." 

' ' Very true ! you speak like a sensible man, sir. We 
have but few sensible folks round about us. Now, you 
would hardly credit it. but my wife believes every fairy 
tale that ever was written. I cannot account for it. She 
is a most sensible woman in everything else." 

" But should not that make you treat her belief with 



78 PHANTASTES : 

something of respect, though you cannot share in it your- 
self?" 

" Yes, that is all very well in theory : but when you 
come to live every day in the midst of absurdity, it is far 
less easy to behave respectfully to it. Why, my wife act- 
ually believes the story of the ' White Cat.' You know 
it, I dare say." 

" I read all these tales when a child, and know that one 
especially well." 

" But, father," interposed the little girl in the chimney- 
corner, "you know quite well that mother is descended 
from that very princess who was changed by the wicked 
fairy into a white cat. Mother has told me so a many 
times, and you ought to believe everything she says." 

"I can easily believe that," rejoined the farmer, with 
another fit of laughter; "for, the other night, a mouse 
came gnawing and scratching beneath the floor, and would 
not let us go to sleep. Your mother sprang out of bed, 
and, going as near it as she could, mewed so infernally like 
a great cat, that the noise ceased instantly. I believe the 
poor mouse died of the fright, for we have never heard it 
again. Ha ! ha ! ha ! " 

The son, an ill-looking youth, who had entered during 
the conversation, joined in his father's laugh ; but his 
laugh was very different from the old man's, — it was polluted 
with a sneer. I watched him, and saw that, as soon as it 
was over, he looked scared, as if he di-eaded some evil con- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 79 

sequences to follow his presumption. The woman stood 
near, waiting till we should seat ourselves at the table, and 
listening to it all with an amused air, which had something 
in it of the look with which one listens to the sententious 
remarks of a pompous child. We sat down to supper and 
I ate heartily. Mj bygone distresses began already to 
look far oflF. 

"In what direction are you going?" asked the old 
man. 

" Eastward," I replied; nor could I have given a more 
definite answer. " Does the forest extend much further in 
that direction ? " 

"Oh! for miles and miles; I do not know how far; 
for, although I have lived on the borders of it all my life, 
I have been too busy to make journeys of discovery into it. 
Nor do I see what I could discover. It is only trees and 
trees, till one is sick of them. By the way, if you follow 
the eastward track from here, you will pass close to what 
the children say is the very house of the ogre that Hop-o'- 
my-Thumb visited, and ate his little daughters with the 
crowns of gold." 

"0 father! ate his little daughters! No; he only 
changed their gold crowns for nightcaps; and the great, 
long-toothed ogre killed them in mistake ; but I do not 
think even he ate them, for you know they were his own 
little ogresses." 

" Well, well, child; you know all about it a great deal 



80 PHANTASTES : 

better than I do. However, the house has, of course, iu 
such a foolish neighborhood as this, a bad enough name ; 
and I must confess there is a woman living in it, with teeth 
long enough, and white enough too, for the lineal descendant 
of the greatest ogre that ever was made. I think jou had 
better not go near her," 

In such talk as this the night wore on. When supper 
was finished, which lasted some time, mj hostess conducted 
me to mj chamber. 

"If you had not had enough of it already," she said, 
'' I would have put you in another room, which looks to- 
wards the forest ; and where you would most likely have 
seen something more of its inhabitants. For they fre- 
quently pass the window, and even enter the room some- 
times. Strange creatures spend whole nights in it at cer- 
tain seasons of the year. I am used to it, and do not mind 
it. No more does my little girl, who sleeps in it always. 
But this room looks southward towards the open country, 
and they never show themselves here ; at least I never saw 
any." 

I was somewhat sorry not to gather any experience that 
I might have of the inhabitants of Fairy-land ; but the 
effect of the farmer's company, and of my own later adven- 
tures, was such, thp,t I chose rather an undisturbed night 
in my more human quarters, which, with their clean, 
white curtains and white linen, were very inviting to my 
weariness. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 81 

In the morning, I awoke refreshed, after a profound and 
dreamless sleep. The sun was high when I looked out of 
the window, shining over a wide, undulating, cultivated 
country. Various garden vegetables were growing beneath 
my window. Everything was radiant with clear sunlight. 
The dew-drops were sparkling their busiest ; the cows in a 
near-by field were eating as if they had not been at it all 
day yesterday; the maids were singing at their work as 
they passed to and fro between the out-houses : I did not 
believe in Fairy-land. I went down, and found the family 
already at breakfast. But before I entered the room where 
they sat, the little girl came to me, and looked up in my 
face, as though she wanted to say something to me. I 
stooped towards her; she put her arms round my neck, 
and her mouth to my ear, and whispered : — 

" A white lady has been flitting about the house all 
night." 

" No whispering behind doors ! " cried the farmer ; and 
we entered together. "Well, how have you slept? No 
bogies, eh? " 

" Not one, thank you ; I slept uncommonly well." 

" I am glad to hear it, come and breakfast." 

After breakfast the farmer and his son went out, and I 
was left alone with the mother and daughter. 

" When I looked out of the window this morning," I 
said, " I felt almost certain that Fairy -land was all a delu- 
sion of my brain ; but whenever I come near you or your 



82 PH AN TASTES : 

little daughter I feel diflferently. Yet I could persuade 
myself, after my last adventures, to go back, and have 
nothing more to do with such strange beings." 

" How will you go back? " said the woman. 

" Nay, that I do not know." 

" Because I have heard, that, for those who enter Fairy- 
land, there is no way of going back. They must go on, 
and go through it. How, I do not in the least know." 

" That is quite the impression on my own mind. Some- 
thing compels me to go on, as if my only path was on- 
ward ; but I feel less inclined this morning to continue my 
adventures." 

" Will you come and see my little child's room? She 
sleeps in the one I told you of, looking towards the forest." 

" Willingly," I said. 

So we went together, the little girl running before to 
open the door for us. It was a large room, full of old- 
fashioned furniture, that seemed to have once belonged to 
some great house. The window was built with a low arch, 
and filled with lozenge-shaped panes. The wall was very 
thick, and built of soli^ stone. I could see that part of 
the house had been erected against the remains of some old 
castle or abbey, or other great building, the fallen stones 
of which had probably served to complete it. But as soon 
as I looked out of the window, a gush of wonderment and 
longing flowed over my soul like the tide of a great sea. 
Pairy-land lay before me, and drew me towards it with an 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 83 

irresistible attraction. The trees bathed their great heads 
in the waves of the morning, -while their roots were .planted 
deep in gloom ; save where on the borders the sunshine 
broke against their stems, or swept in long streams through 
their avenues, washing with brighter hue all the leaves 
over which it flowed , revealing the rich brown of the de- 
cayed leaves and fallen pine-cones, and the delicate greens 
of the long grasses and tiny forests of moss that covered the 
channel over which it passed in motionless rivers of light. 
I turned hurriedly to bid my hostess farewell without fur- 
ther delay. She smiled at my haste, but with an anxious 
look. 

"You had better not go near the house of the ogre, I 
think. My son will show you into another path, which 
will join the first beyond it." 

Not wishing to be headstrong or too confident any more, 
I agreed, and, having taken leave of my kind entertainers, 
went into the wood, accompanied by the youth. He 
scarcely spoke as we went along ; but he led me through 
the trees till we struck upon a path. He told me to follow 
it, and, with a muttered " Good-morning," left me. 



84 PHANTASTES : 



YIIL 

Ich bin ein Thcil des Theils, der anfangs alles war. 

Goethe. — Mephistopheles in Faust. 
I am a part of the part, which at first was the whole. 

My spirits rose as I went deeper into the forest ; but I 
could not regain my former elasticity of mind. I found 
cheerfulness to be like life itself, — not to be created by 
any argument. Afterwards I learned that the best way 
to manage some kinds of painful thoughts is to dare them 
to do their worst ; to let them lie and gnaw at your heart 
till they are tired ; and you find you still have a residue 
of life they cannot kill. So, better and worse, I went on, 
till I came to a little clearing in the forest. In the middle 
of this clearing stood a long, low hut, built with one end 
against a single tall cypress, which rose like a spire to the 
building. A vague misgiving crossed my mind when I 
saw it ; but I must needs go closer, and look through a 
little, half-open door, near the opposite end from the 
cypress. Window I saw none. On peeping in, and look- 
ing towards the further end, I saw a lamp burning, with a 
dim reddish flame, and the head of a woman, bent down- 
wards, as if reading by its light. I could see nothing 
more for a few moments. At length, as my eyes got used 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 85 

to the dimness of the place, I saw that the part of the 
rude building near me was used for household purposes; 
for several rough utensils lay here and there, and a bed 
stood in the corner. An irresistible attraction caused me 
to enter. The woman never raised her face, the upper 
part of which alone I could see distinctly; but, as soon 
as I stepped within the threshold, she began to read aloud, 
in a low and not altogether unpleasing voice, from an 
ancient little volume, which she held open, with one hand 
on the table upon which stood the lamp. What she read 
was something like this : — 

" So, then, as darkness had no beginning, neither will 
it ever have an end. So, then, is it eternal. The nega- 
tion of aught else is its affirmation. Where the light 
cannot come there abideth the darkness. The light doth 
but hollow a mind out of the infinite extension of the 
darkness. And ever upon the steps of the light treadeth 
the darkness ; yea, springeth in fountains and wells amidst 
it, from the secret channels of its mighty sea. Truly, man 
is but a passing flame, moving unquietly amid the sur- 
rounding rest of night, without which he yet could not 
be, and whereof he is in part compounded." 

As I drew nearer, and she read on, she moved a little 
to turn a leaf of the dark old volume, and I saw that her 
face was sallow and slightly forbidding. Her forehead was 
high, and her black eyes repressedly quiet. But she took 
no notice of me. This end of the cottage, if cottage it 



86 PHANTASIES : 

could be called, was destitute of furniture, except the table 
•with the lamp, and the chair on which the woman sat. 
In one corner was a door, apparently of a cupboard in the 
wall, but which might lead to a room beyond. Still the 
irresistible desire which had made me enter the building 
urged me : I must open that door, and see what was 
beyond it. I approached, and laid my hand on the rude 
latch. Then the woman spoke, but without lifting her 
head or looking at me: "You had better not open that 
door." This was uttered quite quietly, and she went on 
with her reading, partly in silence, partly aloud ; but both 
modes seemed equally intended for herself alone. The 
prohibition, however, only increased my desire to see, 
and, as- she took no further notice, I gently opened the door 
to its full width, and looked in. At first, I saw nothing 
worthy of attention. It seemed a common closet, with 
shelves on each hand, on which stood various little neces- 
saries for the humble uses of a cottage. In one corner 
stood one or two brooms, in another a hatchet and other 
common tools ; showing that it was in use every hour of 
the day for household purposes. But, as I looked, I saw 
that there were no shelves at the back, and that an empty 
space went in further ; its termination appearing to be a 
faintly glimmering wall or curtain, somewhat less, 
however, than the width and height of the doorway where 
I stood. But, as I continued looking, for a few seconds, 
towards this faintly luminous limit, my eyes came into 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 87 

true relation with their object. All at once, with such a 
shiver as when one is suddenly conscious of the presence 
of another in a room where he has, for hours, considered 
himself alone, I saw that the seemingly luminous ex- 
tremity was a sky, as of night, beheld through the long 
perspective of a narrow, dark passage, through what, or 
built of what, I could not tell. As I gazed, I clearly 
discerned two or three stars glimmering faintly in the 
distant blue. But, suddenly, and as if it had been run- 
ning fast from a far distance for this very point, and had 
turned the corner without abating its swiftness, a dark 
figure sped into and along the passage from the blue 
opening at the remote end. I started back and shuddered, 
but kept looking, for I could not help it. On and on it 
came, with a speedy approach but delayed arrival ; till, at 
last, through the many gradations of approach, it seemed 
to come within the sphere of myself, rushed up to me, and 
passed me into the cottage. All I could tell of its appear- 
ance was that it seemed to be a dark human figure. Its 
motion was entirely noiseless, and might be called a 
gliding, were it not that it appeared that of a runner, but 
with ghostly feet.- I had moved back yet a little to let 
him pass me, and looked round after him instantly. I 
could not see him. 

"Where is he?" I said, in some alarm, to the woman, 
who still sat reading. 

"There, on the floor, behind you," she said, pointing 



88 PHANTASIES : 

with her arm half-outstretched, but not lifting her eyes. 
I turned and looked, but saw nothing. Then, with a 
feeling that there was jet something behind me, I looked 
around over my shoulders ; and there, on the ground, lay 
a black shadow, the size of a man. It was so dark that 
I could see it in the dim light of the lamp, which shone 
full upon it, apparently without thinning at all the inten- 
sity of its hue. 

" I told you," said the woman, " you had better not look 
into that closet." 

" What is it? " I said, with a growing sense of horror. 

" It is only your shadow that has found you," she re- 
plied. " Everybody's shadow is ranging up and down 
looking for him. I believe you call it by a different name 
in your world : yours has found you, as every person's is 
almost certain to do who looks into that closet, especially 
after meeting one in the forest, whom I dare say you have 
met." 

Here, for the first time, she lifted her head, and looked 
full at me : her mouth was full of long, white, shining 
teeth ; and I knew that I was in the house of the ogre. 
I could not speak, but turned and left the house, with the 
shadow at my heels. " A nice sort of valet to have," I 
said to myself bitterly, as I stepped into the sunshine, and, 
looking over my shoulder, saw that it lay yet blacker in 
the full blaze of the sunlight. Indeed, only when I stood 
between it and the sun was the blackness at all diminished. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 89 

I was SO bewildered — stunned — both by the event itself 
and its suddenness, that I could not at all realize to myself 
what it would be to have such a constant and strango 
attendance ; but, with a dim conviction that my present dis- 
like would soon grow to loathing, I took my dreary way 
through the wood. 



90 PHANTASTES : 



IX. 

lady ! we receive but what we give, 
And in our life alone does nature live : 
Oars is her wedding garment, ours her shroud ! 

Ah ! from the soul itself must issue forth 
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud, 

Enveloping the earth ; 
And from the soul itself must there be sent 

A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth, 
Of all sweet sounds the life and element ! 

COLEHrDGE. 

From this time, until I arrived at the palace of Fairy- 
land, I can attempt no consecutive account of my wander- 
ings and adventures. Everything, henceforward, existed 
for me in its relation to my attendant. What influence he 
exercised upon everything into contact with which I was 
brought, may be understood from a few detached instances. 
To begin with this very day on which he first joined me : 
after I had walked heartlessly along for two or three hours, 
I was very weary, and lay down to rest in a most delightful 
part of the forest, carpeted with wild-flowers. I lay for 
half an hour in a dull repose, and then got up to pursue 
my way. The flowers on the spot where I had lain were 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 91 

crushed to the earth ; but I saw that they would soon lift 
their heads and rejoice again in the sun and air. Not so 
those on which my shadow had lain. The very outline of 
it could be traced in the withered, lifeless grass, and the 
scorched and shrivelled flowers which stood there, dead, 
and hopeless of any resurrection. I shuddered, and hast- 
ened away with sad forebodings. 

In a few days I had reason to dread an extension of its 
baleful influences, from the fact that it was no longer con- 
fined to one position in regard to myself Hitherto, when 
seized with an irresistible desire to look on my evil demon 
(which longing would unaccountably seize me at any 
moment, returning at longer or shorter intervals, some- 
times every minute), I had to turn my head backwards, 
and look over my shoulder ; in which position, as long as I 
could retain it, I was fascinated. But one day, having 
come out on a clear, grassy hill, which commanded a 
glorious prospect, — though of what I cannot now tell, — 
my shadow moved round, and came in front of me. And, 
presently, a new manifestation increased my distress; for 
it began to coruscate, and shoot out on all sides a radiation 
of dim shadow. These rays of gloom issued from the 
central shadow as from a black sun, lengthening and 
shortening with continual change. But wherever a ray 
struck, that part of earth, or sea, or sky, became void, and 
desert, and sad to my heart. On this, the first develop- 
ment of its new power, one ray shot out beyond the rest, 



92 PHANTASIES: 

seeming to lengthen infinitely, until it smote the great sun 
on the face, which withered and darkened beneath the blow. 
I turned away and went on. The shadow retreated to its 
former position ; and when I looked again it had drawn in 
all its spears of darkness, and followed like a dog at my 
heels. 

Once, as I passed by a cottage, there came out a lovely 
fairy child, with two wondrous toys, one in each hand. 
The one was the tube through which the fairy-gifted poet 
looks when he beholds the same thing everywhere ; the 
other that through which he looks when he combines into 
new forms of loveliness those images of beauty which his 
own choice has gathered from all regions wherein he has 
travelled. Round the child's head was an aureole of 
emanating rays. As I looked at him in wonder and 
delight, round crept from behind me the something dark, 
and the child stood in my shadow. Straightway he was a 
commonplace boy, with a rough, broad-brimmed straw hat, 
through which brim the sun shone from behind. The toys 
he carried were a multiplying-glass and a kaleidoscope. I 
sighed and departed. 

One evening, as a great flood of western gold flowed 
through an avenue in the woods, down the stream, just as 
when I saw him first, came the sad knight, riding on his 
chestnut steed. But his armor did not shine half so red as 
when I saw him first. Many a blow of mighty sword and 
axe, turned aside by the strength of his mail, and glancing 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 93 

adown the surface, had swept from its path the fretted rust, 
and the glorious steel had answered the kindly blow with 
the thanks of returning light. These streaks and spots 
made his armor look like the floor of a forest in the sun- 
light. His forehead was higher than before, for the con- 
tracting wrinkles were nearly gone ; and the sadness that 
remained on his face was the sadness of a dewy summer 
twilight, not that of a frosty autumn morn. He, too, had 
met the Alder-maiden as I ; but he had plunged into the 
torrent of mighty deeds, and the stain was nearly washed 
away. No shadow followed him. He had not entered the 
dark house ; he had not had time to open the closet-door. 
"Will he ever look in?" I said to myself. ^^ Must his 
shadow find him some day ? " But I could not answer my 
own questions. 

We travelled together for two days, and I began to love 
him. It was plain that he suspected my story in some de- 
gree ; and I saw him once or twice looking curiously and 
anxiously at my attendant gloom, which all this time had 
remained very obsequiously behind me ; but I offered no 
explanation, and he asked none. Shame at my neglect of 
his warning, and a horror which shrunk from even alluding 
to its cause, kept me silent, till, on the evening of the 
second day, some noble words from my companion roused 
all my heart, and I was at the point of falling on his neck, 
and telling him the whole story, seeking, if not for helpful 
advice, for of that I was hopeless, yet for the comfort of 



94 PHANTASIES : 

sympathy, — when round slid the shadow and enwrapt my 
friend, and I could not trust him. The glory of his brow 
vanished ; the light of his eye grew cold ; and I held my 
peace. The next morning we parted. 

But the most dreadful thing of all was, that I now began 
to feel something like satisfaction in the presence of the 
shadow. I began to be rather vain of my attendant, say- 
ing to myself, " In a land like this, with so many illusions 
everywhere, I need his aid to disenchant the things around 
me. He does away with all appearances, and shows me 
things in their true color and form. And I am not one to 
be fooled with the vanities of the common crowd, I will 
not see beauty where there is none. I will dare to behold 
things as they are. And if I live in a waste instead of a 
paradise, I will live knowing where I live." But of this a 
certain exercise of his power, which soon followed, quite 
cured me, turning my feeling towards him once more into 
loathing and distrust. It was thus : — 

One bright noon, a little maiden joined me, coming 
through the wood in a direction at right angles to my path. 
She came along singing and dancing, happy as a child, 
though she seemed almost a woman. In her hands — now 
in one, now in another — she carried a small globe, bright 
and clear as the purest crystal. This seemed at once her 
plaything and her greatest treasure. At one moment 
you would have thought her utterly careless of it, and at 
another overwhelmed with anxiety for its safety. But I 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 95 

believe she \Fas taking care of it all the time, perhaps not 
least when least occupied about it. She stopped by me 
with a smile, and bade me ^ood-daj with the sweetest voice. 
I felt a wonderful liking for the child, — for she produced 
on me more the impression of a child, though my under- 
standing told me differently. We talked a little, and then 
walked on together in the direction I had been pursuing. 
I asked her about the globe she carried, but getting no defi- 
nite answer, I held out my hand to take it. She drew 
back, and said, but smiling almost invitingly the while, 
"You must not touch it; " then, after a moment's pause, 
"or if you do, it must be very gently." I touched it 
with a finger. A slight vibratory motion arose in it, ac- 
companied, or perhaps manifested, by a faint, sweet sound. 
I touched it again, and the sound increased. I touched it 
the third time ; a tiny torrent of harmony rolled out of the 
little globe. She would not let me touch it any more. 

We travelled on together all that day. She left me 

when twilight came on ; but next day, at noon, she met me 

( as before, and again we travelled till evening. The third 

day she came once more at noon, and we walked on to- 

', gether. Now, though we had talked about a great many 

, things connected with Fairy-land, and the life she had led 

; hitherto, I had never been able to learn anything about the 

globe. This day, however, as we went on, the shadow 

I glided round and enwrapt the maiden. It could not 

jchange her. But my desire to know about the globe, 



96 PHANTASTES : 

■which in his gloom began to waver as with an inward light, 
and to shoot out flashes of many-colored flame, grew irre- 
sistible. I put out both mj hands and laid hold of it. It 
began to sound as before. The sound rapidly increased, 
till it grew a low tempest of harmony, and the globe trem- 
bled, and quivered, and throbbed between my hands. I 
had not the heart to pull it away from the maiden, though 
I held it in spite of her attempts to take it from me ; yes, 
I shame to say, in spite of her prayers and at last her 
tears. The music went on growing in intensity and com- 
plication of tones, and the globe vibrated and heaved, till 
at last it burst in our hands, and a black vapor broke up- 
wards from out of it ; then turned, as if blown sideways, 
and enveloped the maiden, hiding even the shadow in its 
blackness. She held fast the fragments, which I aban- 
doned, and fled from me into the forest in the direction 
whence she had come, wailing like a child, and crying, 
' ' You have broken my globe ! my globe is broken ! my 
globe is broken ! " I followed her, in the hope of comfort- 
ing her; but had not pursued her far, before a sudden 
cold gust of wind bowed the tree-tops above us, and swept 
through their stems around us ; a great cloud overspread 
the day, and a fierce tempest came on, in which I lost sight 
of her. It lies heavy on my heart to this hour. At night, 
ere I fall asleep, often, whatever I may be thinking about, 
I suddenly hear her voice, crying out, " You have broken 
my globe ! my globe is broken ! ah, my globe ! " 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 97 

Here I will mention one more strange thing ; but 
whether this peculiarity was owing to my shadow at all I 
am not able to assure myself. I came to a village, the in- 
habitants of which could not at first sight be distinguished 
from the dwellers in our own land. They rather avoided 
than sought my company, though they were very pleasant 
when I addressed them. But at last I observed that, 
whenever I came within a certain distance of any one of 
them, which distance, however, varied with diflferent in- 
dividuals, the whole appearance of the person began to 
change ; and this change increased in degree as I ap- 
proached. When I receded to the former distance, the 
former appearance was restored. The nature of the change 
was grotesque, following no fixed rule. The nearest re- 
semblance to it that I know, is the distortion produced in 
your countenance when you look at it as reflected in a 
concave or convex surface, — say, either side of a bright 
spoon. Of this phenomenon I first became aware in rather 
a ludicrous way. My host's daughter was a very pleasant, 
pretty girl, who made herself more agreeable to me than 
most of those about me. For some days my companion- 
shadow had been less obtrusive than usual ; and such was 
the reaction of spirits occasioned by the simple mitigation 
of torment, that, although I had cause enough besides to 
be gloomy, I felt light and comparatively happy. My 
impression is, that she was quite aware of the law of ap- 
pearances that existed between the people of the place and 



98 PHANTASTES : 

myself, and had resolved to amuse herself at my expense ; 
for one evening, after some jesting and raillery, she, some- 
how or other, provoked me to attempt to kiss her. But 
she was well defended from any assault of the kind. Her 
countenance became, of a sudden, absurdly hideous ; the 
pretty mouth was elongated, and otherwise amplified suflS- 
ciently to have allowed of six simultaneous kisses. I 
started back in bewildered dismay; she burst into the 
merriest fit of laughter, and ran from the room. I soon 
found that the same undefinable law of change operated 
between me and all the other villagers ; and that, to feel I 
was in pleasant company, it was absolutely necessary for 
me to discover and observe the right focal distance between 
myself and each one with whom I had to do. This done, 
all went pleasantly enough. Whether, when I happened 
to neglect this precaution, I presented to them an equally 
ridiculous appearance, I did not ascertain ; but I presume 
that the alteration was common to the approximating 
parties. I was likewise unable to determine whether I was 
a necessary party to the production of this strange trans- 
formation, or whether it took place as well, under the 
given circumstances, between the inhabitants themselves. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 99 



X. 

From Eden's bowers the full-fed rivers flow, 
To guide the outcasts to the land of woe : 
Our Earth one little toiling streamlet yields, 
To guide the wanderers to the happy fields. 

After leaving this village, where I had rested for 
nearly a week, I travelled through a desert region of dry 
sand and glittering rocks, peopled principally by goblin- 
fairies. When I first entered their domains, and, indeed, 
whenever I fell in with another tribe of them, they began 
mocking me with offered handfuls of gold and jewels, 
making hideous grimaces at me, and performing the most 
antic homage, as if they thought I expected reverence, and 
meant to humor me like a maniac. But ever, as soon as one 
cast his eyes on the shadow behind me, he made a wry face, 
partly of pity, partly of contempt, and looked ashamed, as 
if he had been caught doing something inhuman; then 
throwing down his handful of gold, and ceasing all his grim- 
aces, he stood aside to let me pass in peace, and made signs 
to his companions to do the like. I had no inclination to ob- 
serve them much, for the shadow was in my heart as well as 
at my heels. I walked listlessly and almost hopelessly along, 
till I arrived one day at a small spring, which, bursting 



100 PHANTASTES : 

cool from the heart of a sun-heated rock, flowed somewhat 
southwards from the direction I had been taking. I drank 
of this spring, and found myself Avonderfullj refreshed. 
A kind of love to the cheerful little stream arose in mj 
heart. It was born in a desert ; but it seemed to say to 
itself, ' ' I will flow, and sing, and lave my banks, till I 
make my desert a paradise." I thought I could not do 
better than follow it, and see what it made of it. So 
down with the stream I went, over rocky lands, burning 
with sunbeams. But the rivulet flowed not far, before a 
few blades of grass appeared on its banks, and then, here 
and there, a stunted bush. Sometimes it disappeared 
altogether under ground ; and after I had wandered some 
distance, as near as I could guess, in the direction it 
seemed to take, I would suddenly hear it again, singing, 
sometimes far away to my right or left, amongst new rocks, 
over which it made new cataracts of watery melodies. 
The verdure on its banks increased as it flowed ; other 
streams joined it ; and at last, after many days' travel, I 
found myself, one gorgeous summer evening, resting by 
the side of a broad river, with a glorious horse-chestnut 
tree towering above me, and dropping its blossoms, milk- 
white and rosy-red all about me. As I sat, a gush of joy 
sprang forth in my heart, and overflowed at my eyes. 
Through my tears, the whole landscape glimmered in such 
bewitching loveliness, that I felt as if I were entering 
Fairy-land for the first time, and some loving hand were 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 101 

waiting to cool my head, and a loving word to warm my 
heart. Roses, wild roses, everywhere ! So plentiful were 
they, they not only perfumed the air, they seemed to dye 
it a faint rose-hue. The color floated abroad with the 
scent, and climbed, and spread, until the whole west blushed 
and glowed with the gathered incense of roses. And my 
heart fainted with longing in my bosom. Could I but see 
the Spirit of the Earth, as I saw once the indwelling 
woman of the beech-tree, and my beauty of the pale 
marble, I should be content. Content ! — Oh, how gladly 
would I die of the light of her eyes ! Yea, I would cease 
to be, if that would bring me one word of love from the 
one mouth. The twilight sank around, and infolded me 
with sleep. I slept as I had not slept for months. I did 
not awake till late in the morning; when, refreshed in 
body and mind, I rose as from the death that wipes out the 
sadness of life, and then dies itself in the new morrow. 
Again I followed the stream ; now climbing a steep, rocky 
bank that hemmed it in ; now wading through long grasses 
and wild flowers in its path, now through meadows, and 
anon through woods that crowded down to the very lip 
of the water. 

At length, in a nook of the river, gloomy with the 
weight of overhanging foliage, and still and deep as a soul 
in which the torrent eddies of pain have hollowed a great 
gulf, and then, subsiding in violence, have left it full of a 
motionless, fathomless sorrow, — I saw a little boat lying. 



102 phantasies: 

So still was the water here that the boat needed no fasten- 
ing. It lay as if some one had just stepped ashore, and 
would in a moment return. But as there were no signs of 
presence, and no track through the thick bushes, and, 
moreover, as I was in Fairj-land, where one does very 
much as he pleases, I forced mj way to the brink, stepped 
into the boat, pushed it, with the help of the tree-branches, 
out into the stream, lay down in the bottom, and let my 
boat and me float whither the stream would carry us. I 
seemed to lose myself in the great flow of sky above me, 
unbroken in its infinitude, except when, now and then, 
coming nearer the shore at a bend in the river, a tree 
would sweep its mighty head silently above mine, and glide 
away back into the past, never more to fling its shadow 
over me. I fell asleep in this cradle, in which mother 
Nature was rocking her weary child; and while I slept, 
the sun slept not, but went round his arched way. When 
I awoke, he slept in 'the waters, and I went on my silent 
path beneath a round, silvery moon. And a pale moon 
looked up from the floor of the great blue cave that lay in 
the abysmal silence beneath. 

Why are all reflections lovelier than what we call the 
reality ? — not so grand or so strong, it may be, but 
always lovelier? Fair as is the gliding sloop on the shin- 
ing sea, the wavering, trembling, unresting sail below is 
fairer still. Yea, the reflecting ocean itself, reflected in the 
mirror, has a wondrousness about its waters that some- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 103 

what vanishes when I turn towards itself. All mirrors 
are magic mirrors. The commonest room is a ro^i/m in a 
poem when I turn to the glass. (And this reminds me, 
while I write, of a strange story which I read in the fairy 
palace, and of which I will try to make a feeble memorial 
in its place.) In whatever way it may be accounted for, 
of one thing we may be sure, that this feeling is no cheat ; 
for there is no cheating in nature and the simple, unsought 
feelings of the soul. There must be a truth involved in it, 
though we may but in part lay hold of the meaning. 
Even the memories of past pain are beautiful ; and past 
delights, though beheld only through clefts in the gray 
clouds of sorrow, are lovely as Fairy-land. But how 
have I wandered into the deeper fairy-land of the soul, 
while as yet I only float towards the fairy palace of Fairy- 
land ! The moon, which is the lovelier memory or reflex 
of the down-gone sun, the joyous day seen in the faint 
mirror of the brooding night, had rapt me away. 

I sat up in the boat. Gigantic forest trees were about 
me ; through which, like a silver snake, twisted and 
twined the great river. The little waves, when I moved in 
the boat, heaved and fell with a plash as of molten silver, 
breaking the image of the moon into a thousand morsels, 
fusing again into one, as the ripples of laughter die into 
the still face of joy. The sleeping woods, in undefined 
massiveness ; the water that flowed in its sleep ; and, above 
•all, the enchantress moon, which had cast them all, with 



104 - PHANTASIES : 

her pale eye, into the charmed slumber, sank into my soul, 
and I felt as if I had died in a dream, and should never 
more aAvake. 

From this I was partly aroused by a glimmering of 
white that, through the trees on the left, vaguely crossed 
my vision as I gazed upwards. But the trees again hid 
the object; and, at the moment, some strange melodious 
bird took up its song, and sang, not an ordinary bird-song, 
with constant repetitions of the same melody, but what 
sounded like a continuous strain, in which one thought was 
expressed, deepening in intensity as evolved in progress. 
It sounded like a welcome already overshadowed with the 
coming farewell. As in all sweetest music, a tinge of sad- 
ness was in every note. Nor do we know how much of 
the pleasures even of life we owe to the intermingled sor- 
rows. Joy cannot unfold the deepest truths, although 
deepest truth must be deepest joy. Cometh white-robed 
Sorrow, stooping and wan, and flingeth wide the doors she 
may not enter. Almost we linger with Sorrow for very 
love. 

As the song concluded, the stream bore my little boat 
with a gentle sweep round a bend of the river ; and lo ! on 
a broad lawn, which rose from the water's edge with a long 
green slope to a clear elevation from which the trees re- 
ceded on all sides, stood a stately palace glimmering 
ghostly in the moonshine : it seemed to be built throughout 
of the whitest marble. There was no reflection of moon- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 105 

light from windows, — there seemed to be none ; so there 
was no cold glitter ; only, as I said, a ghostly shimmer. 
Numberless shadows tempered the shine, from column and 
balcony and tower : for everywhere galleries ran along 
the face of the buildings ; wings were extended in many 
directions ; and numberless openings, through which the 
moonbeams vanished into the interior, and which served 
both for doors and windows, had their separate balconies in 
front, communicating with a common gallery that rose on 
its own pillars. Of course, I did not discover all this from 
the river, and in the moonlight. But, though I was there 
for many days, I did not succeed in mastering the inner 
topography of the building, so extensive and complicated 
was it. 

Here I wished to land, but the boat had no odrs on 
board. However, I found that a plank, serving for a seat, 
was unfastened, and with that I brought the boat to the 
bank, and scrambled on shore. Deep, soft turf sank beneath 
my feet, as I went up the ascent towards the palace. When 
I reached it, I saw that it stood on a great platform of 
marble, with an ascent, by broad stairs of the same, all 
round it. Arrived on the platform, I found there was an 
extensive outlook over the forest, which, however, was 
rather veiled than revealed by the moonlight. Entering 
by a wide gateway, but without gates, into an inner court, 
surrounded on all sides by great marble pillars supporting 
galleries above, I saw a large fountain of porphyry in the 



106 PHANTASTjES: 

middle; throwing up a lofty column of water, which fell, 
with a noise as of the fusion of all sweet sounds, into a 
basin beneath ; overflowing which, it ran in a single 
channel towards the interior of the building. Although 
the moon was by this time so low in the west that not a 
ray of her light fell into the court, over the height of the 
surrounding buildings, yet was the court lighted by a 
second reflex from the sun of other lands. For the top of 
the column of water, just as it spread to fall, caught the 
moonbeams, and, like a great, pale lamp hung high in the 
night air, threw a dim memory of light (as it were) over 
the court below. This court was paved in diamonds of 
white and red marble. According to my custom since I 
entered Fairy-land, of taking for a guide whatever I first 
found moving in any direction, I followed the stream from 
the basin of the fountain. It led me to a great, open door, 
beneath the ascending steps of which it ran through a low 
arch and disappeared. Entering here, I found myself in a 
great hall, surrounded with white pillars, and paved with 
black and white. This I could see by the moonlight, 
which, from the other side, streamed through open windows 
into the hall. Its height I could not distinctly see. As 
soon as I entered, I had the feeling so common to me in the 
woods, that there were others there besides myself, though 
I could see no one, and heard no sound to indicate a pres- 
ence. Since my visit to the Church of Darkness, my 
power of seeing the fairies of the higher orders had 



A FAEEIE ROMANCE. 107 

gradually diminislied, until it had almost ceased. But I 
could frequently believe in their presence while unable to 
see them. Still, although I had company, and doubtless 
of a safe kind, it seemed rather dreary to spend the night 
in an empty marble hall, however beautiful ; especially as 
the moon was near the going down, and it would soon be 
dark. So I began at the place where I entered, and 
walked round the hall, looking for some door or passage 
that might lead me to a more hospitable chamber. As I 
walked, I was deliciously haunted with the feeling that, 
behind some one of the seemingly innumerable pillars, one 
who loved me was waiting for me. Then I thought she 
was following me from pillar to pillar as I went along ; but 
no arms came out of the faint moonlight, and no sigh 
assured me of her presence. 

At length I came to an open corridor, into which I 
turned; notwithstanding that in doing so I left the light 
behind. Along this I walked with outstretched hands, 
groping my way, till, arriving at another corridor, which 
seemed to strike off at right angles to that in which I was, 
I saw at the end a faintly glimmering light, too pale even 
for moonshine, resembling rather a stray phosphorescence. 
However, where everything was white, a little light went a 
great way. So I walked on to the end, and a long corri- 
dor it Avas. When I came up to the light, I found that it 
proceeded from what looked like silver letters upon a door 
of ebony : and, to my surprise, even in the home of wonder 



108 PHANTASIES : 

itself, the letters formed the words, Tlie Cliamher of Sir 
Anodos. Although I had as yet no right to the honors of 
a knight, I ventured to conclude that the chamber was 
indeed intended for me, and, opening the door without 
hesitation, I entered. Any doubt as to whether I was right 
in so doing was soon dispelled. AVhat to my dark eyes 
seemed a blaze of light, burst upon me. A fire of large pieces 
of some sweet-scented wood, supported by dogs of silver, was 
burning on the hearth, and a bright lamp stood on a table, 
in the midst of a plentiful meal, apparently awaiting my arri- 
val. But what surprised me more than all was that the room 
was in every respect a copy of my own room, — the room 
whence the little stream from my basin had led me into Fairy- 
land. There was the very carpet of grass and moss and 
daisies, which I had myself designed ; the curtains of pale 
blue silk, that fell like a cataract over the windows ; the old- 
fashioned bed, with the chintz furniture, on which I had 
slept from boyhood. " Now I shall sleep," I said to my- 
self. " My shadow dares not come here." 

I sat down to the table, and began to help myself to the 
good things before me with confidence. And now I found, 
as in many instances before, how true the fairy tales are ; 
for I was waited on, all the time of my meal, by invisible 
hands. I had scarcely to do more than look towards any- 
thing I wanted, when it was brought me, just as if it had 
come to me of itself My glass was kept filled with the 
wine I had chosen, until I looked towards another bottle or 



' A FAERIE ROMANCE, 109 

I 

(^ecanter, when a fresh glass was substituted, and the other 
wine supplied. When I had eaten and drunk more heartily 
and joyfully than ever since I entered Fairy-land, the 
whole was removed by several attendants, of whom some 
were male and some female, as I thought I could dis- 
tinguish from the way the dishes were lifted from the table, 
and the motion with which they were carried out of the 
room. As soon as they were all taken away, I heard a 
sound as of the shutting of a door, and knew that I was 
left alone. I sat long by the fire, meditating, and wonder- 
ing how it would all end; and when at length, wearied 
with thinking, I betook myself to my own old bed, it was 
half with a hope that, when I awoke in the morning, I 
should awake not only in my own room, but in my own 
castle also; and that I should walk out upon my own 
native soil, and find that Fairy-land was, after all, only a 
vision of the night. The sound of the falling waters of 
the fountain floated me into oblivion. 



110 PHANTASIES: 



XL 

A wilderness of building, sinking far 

And self-withdrawn into a wondrous depth, 

Far sinking into splendor — without end I 

Fabric it seemed of diamond and of gold, 

With alabaster domes, and silver spires, 

And blazing terrace upon terrace, high 

Uplifted. Wordsworth. 

But when, after a sleep, which, although dreamless, yet 
left behind it a sense of past blessedness, I awoke in the full 
morning, I found indeed, that the room was still mj own, 
but that it looked abroad upon an unknown landscape of 
forest and hill and dale on the one side ; and on the other 
upon the marble court, with the great fountain, the crest 
of which now flashed glorious in the sun, and cast on the 
pavement beneath a shower of faint shadows from the 
waters that fell from it into the marble basin below. 

Agreeably to all authentic accounts of the treatment of 
travellers in Fairy-land, I found by my bedside a complete 
suit of fresh clothing, just such as I was in the habit of 
wearing ; for, though varied sufficiently from the one re- 
moved, it was yet in complete accordance with my tastes. 
I dressed myself in this and went out. The whole palace 
shone like silver in the sun. The marble was partly dull 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. Ill 

and partly polished ; and every pinnacle, dome, and turret 
ended in a ball, or cone, or cusp of silver. It was like 
frost-work, and too dazzling, in the sun, for earthly eyes 
like mine. I will not attempt to describe the environs, 
save by saying that all the pleasures to be found in the 
most varied and artistic arrangement of wood and river, 
lawn and wild forest, garden and shrubbery, rocky hill and 
luxurious vale ; in living creatures wild and tame ; in gor- 
geous birds, scattered fountains, little streams, and reedy 
lakes, — all were here. Some parts of the palace itself I 
shall have occasion to describe more minutely. 

For this whole morning I never thought of my demon 
shadow ; and not till the weariness which supervened on 
delight brought it again to my memory, did I look round 
to see if it was behind me : it was scarcely discernible. 
But its presence, however faintly revealed, sent a pang to 
my heart, for the pain of which not all the beauties around 
me could compensate. It was followed, however, by the 
comforting reflection that, peradventure, I might here find 
the magic word of power to banish the demon and set me 
free, so that I should no longer be a man beside myself. 
The Queen of Fairy-land, thought I, must dwell here; 
surely she will put forth her power to deliver me, and send 
me singing through the further gates of her country back 
to my own land. "Shadow of me!" I said, "which art 
not me, but which representest thyself to me as me ; here 
I may find a shadow of light which will devour thee, the 



112 PHANTASTES : 

shadow of darkness ! Here I may find a blessing which 
will fall on thee as a curse, and damn thee to the blackness 
whence thou hast emerged unbidden." I said this, 
stretched at length on the slope of the lawn above the river ; 
and as the hope arose within me the sun came forth from a 
light, fleecy cloud that swept across his face, and hill and 
dale, and the great river winding on through the still, 
mysterious forest, flashed back his rays as with a silent 
shout of joy; all nature lived and glowed; the very earth 
grew warm beneath me ; a magnificent dragon-fly went 
past me like an arrow from a bow, and a whole concert of 
birds burst into choral song. 

The heat of the sun soon became too intense even for 
passive support. I therefore rose, and sought the shelter 
of one of the arcades. Wandering along from one to 
another of these, wherever my heedless steps led me. and 
wondering everywhere at the simple magnificence of the 
building, I arrived at another hall, the roof of which was 
of a pale blue, spangled with constellations of silver stars, 
and supported by porphyry pillars of a paler red than 
ordinary. — In this house (I may remark in passing) 
silver seemed everywhere preferred to gold ; and such was 
the purity of the air that it showed nowhere signs of tar- 
nishing. — The whole of the floor of this hall, except a 
narrow path behind the pillars, paved with black, was hol- 
lowed into a huge basin, many feet deep, and filled with 
the purest, most liquid and radiant water. The sides of 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 113 

the basin were white marble, and the bottom was paved 
with all kinds of refulgent stones, of every shape and hue. 
In their arrangement, you would have supposed, at first 
sight, that there was no design, for they seemed to lie as if 
cast there from careless and playful hands ; but it was a 
most harmonious confusion ; and as I looked at the play 
of their colors, especially when the waters were in motion, 
I came at last to feel as if not one little peddle could be 
displaced, without injuring the effect of the whole. Be- 
neath this floor of the water lay the reflection of the blue 
inverted roof, fretted with its silver stars, like a second 
deeper sea clasping and upholding the first. This fairy 
bath was probably fed from the fountain in the court. Led 
by an irresistible desire, I undressed and plunged into the 
water. It clothed me as with a new sense and its object 
both in one. The waters lay so close to me they seemed 
to enter and revive my heart. I rose to the surface, shook 
the water from my hair, and swam as in a rainbow, amid 
the coruscations of the gems below seen though the agita- 
tion caused by my motion. Then, with open eyes, I dived, 
and swam beneath the surface. And here was a new 
wonder. For the basin, thus beheld, appeared to extend 
on all sides like a sea, with here and there groups as of 
ocean rocks, hollowed by ceaseless billows into wondrous 
caves and grotesque pinnacles. Around the caves grew 
sea-weeds of all hues, and the corals glowed between ; 
while, far off, I saw the glimmer of what seemed to be 



114 PHANTASTES : 

creatures' of human form at home in the waters. I thought 
I had been enchanted ; and that, when I rose to the sur- 
face, I should find myself miles from land, swimming alone 
upon a heaving sea ; but, when my eyes emerged from the 
waters, I saw above me the blue spangled vault, and the 
red pillars around. I dived again, and found myself once 
more in the heart of a great sea. I then arose, and swam 
to the edge, where I got out easily, for the water reached 
the very brim, and, as I drew near, washed in tiny waves 
over the black marble border. I dressed, and went out, 
deeply refreshed. 

And now I began to discern faint, gracious forms here 
and there throughout the building. Some walked together 
in earnest conversation. Others strayed alone. Some stood 
in groups, as if looking at and talking about a picture or a 
statue. None of them heeded me ; nor were they plainly 
visible to my eyes. Sometimes a group, or single individ- 
ual, would fade entirely out of the realm of my vision as 
I gazed. When evening came, and the moon arose clear 
as the round of a horizon-sea when the sun hangs over it in 
the west, I began to see them all more plainly, especially 
when they came between me and the moon, and yet more 
especially when I myself was in the shade. But, even 
then, I sometimes saw only the passing wave of a white 
robe ; or a lovely arm or neck gleamed by in the moon- 
shine ; or white feet went walking alone over the moony 
sward ; nor, I grieve to say, did I ever come much nearer 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 115 

to these glorious beings, or ever look upon the Queen of 
the Fairies herself. My destiny ordered otherwise. 

In this palace of marble and silver, and fountains and 
moonshine, I spent many days ; waited upon constantly in 
my own room with everything desirable, and bathing daily 
in the fairy bath. All this time I was little troubled with 
my demon shadow. I had a vague feeling that he was 
somewhere about the palace ; but it seemed as if the hope 
that I should in this place be finally freed from his hated 
presence had sufficed to banish him for a time. How and 
where I found him I shall soon have to relate. 

The third day after my arrival I found the library of 
the palace ; and here, all the time I remained, I spent 
most of the middle of the day. For it was, not to mention 
far greater attractions, a luxurious retreat from the noon- 
tide sun. During the mornings and afternoons I wan- 
dered about the lovely neighborhood, or lay, lost in deli- 
cious day-dreams, beneath some mighty tree on the open 
lawn. My evenings were by and by spent in a part of the 
palace, the account of which, and of my adventures in 
connection with it, I must yet postpone for a little. 

The library was a mighty hall, lighted from the roof, 
which was formed of something like glass, vaulted over in 
a single piece, and stained throughout with a great, myste- 
rious picture in gorgeous coloring. The walls were lined 
from floor to roof with books and books, most of them in 
ancient bindings, but some in strange new fashions which I 



116 PHANTASTES: 

had never seen, and which, were I to make the attempt, I 
could ill describe. All around the walls, in front of the 
books, ran galleries in rows, communicating by stairs. 
These galleries were built of all kinds of colored stones ; 
all sorts of marble and granite, with porphyry, jasper, 
lapis lazuli, agate, and various others, were ranged in won- 
derful melody of successive colors. Although the material, 
then, of which these galleries and stairs were built, ren- 
dered necessary a certain degree of massiveness in the con- 
struction, yet such was the size of the place that they 
seemed to run along the walls like cords. Over some parts 
of the library descended curtains of silk of various dyes, 
none of which I ever saw lifted while I was there ; and I 
felt somehow that it would be presumptuous in me to ven- 
ture to look within them. But the use of the other books 
seemed free ; and day after day I came to the library, 
threw myself on one of the many sumptuous eastern car- 
pets, which lay here and there on the floor, and read, and 
read, until weary, — if that can be designated as weariness, 
which was rather the faintness of rapturous delight, — or 
until, sometimes, the failing of the light invited me to go 
abroad, in the hope that a cool, gentle breeze might have 
arisen to bathe, with an airy, invigorating bath, the limbs 
which the glow of the burning spirit within had withered 
no less than the glow of the blazing sun without. 

One peculiarity of these books, or, at least, most of those 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 117 

I looked into, I must make a somewhat vain attempt to de- 
scribe. 

If, for instance, it was a book of metaphysics I opened, 
I had scarcely read two pages before I seemed to myself 
to be pondering over discovered truth, and constructing the 
intellectual machine whereby to communicate the discovery 
to my fellow-men. With some books, however, of this 
nature, it seemed rather as if the process was removed yet 
a great way further back, and I was trying to find the 
root of a manifestation, the spiritual truth whence a mate- 
rial vision sprang; or to combine two propositions, both 
apparently true, either at once or in different remembered 
moods, and to find the point in which their invisibly con- 

I verging lines would unite in one, revealing a truth higher 
than either and differing from both, though so far from 
being opposed to either, that it was that whence each de- 

; rived its life and power. Or, if the book was one of trav- 
els, I. found myself the traveller. New lands, fresh expe- 
riences, novel customs, rose around me. I walked, I dis- 

' covered, I fought, I suffered, I rejoiced in my success. 
Was it a history ? I was the chief actor therein. I suf- 
fered my own blame ; I was glad in my own praise. With 

' a fiction it was the same. Mine was the whole story ; for 

, I took the place of the character who was most like myself, 
and his story was mine ; until, grown weary with the life 
of years condensed in an hour, or arrived at my death-bed, 
or the end of the volume. I would awake, with a sudden 



118 PHANTASIES : 

bewilderment, to the consciousness of my present life, rec- 
ognizing the walls and roof around me, and finding I joyed 
or sorrowed only in a book. If the book was a poem, the 
words disappeared, or took the subordinate position of an 
accompaniment to the succession of forms and images that 
rose and vanished with a soundless rhythm and a hidden 
rhyme. 

In one, with a mystical title, which I cannot recall, I 
read of a world that is not like ours. The wondrous 
account, in such a feeble, fragmentary way as is possible to 
me, I would willingly impart. Whether or not it was all 
a poem I cannot tell ; but, from the impulse I felt, when I 
first contemplated writing it, to break into rhyme, to 
which impulse I shall give way if it comes upon me again, 
I think it must have been, partly at least, in verse. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 119 



XII. 

Chained is the Spring. The night-wind bold 

Blows over the hard earth ; 
Time is not more confused and cold, 

Nor keeps more wintry mirth. 

Yet blow, and roll the world about-; 

Blow, Time — blow, winter's Wind ! 
Through chinks of Time heaven peepeth out, 
And Spring the frost behind. 

G. E. M. 

They who believe in the influences of the stars over the 
fates of men are, in feeling at least, nearer the truth than 
they who regard the heavenly bodies as related to them 
merely by a common obedience to an external law. All 
that man sees has to do with man. Worlds cannot be 
without an inteiynundane relationship. The community of 
the centre of all creation suggests an interradiating connec- 
tion and dependence of the parts. Else a grander idea is 
conceivable than that which is already embodied. The 
blank, which is only a forgotten life lying behind the con- 
sciousness, and the misty splendor, which is an undevel- 
oped life lying before it, may be full of mysterious revela- 
tions of other connections with the worlds around us than 



120 PHANTASTES .' 

those of science and poetry. No shining belt or gleaming 
moon, no red and green glory in a self-encircling twin-star, 
but has a relation with the hidden things of a man's soul, 
and, it may be, with the secret history of his body as well. 
They are portions of the living house wherein he abides. 

' ' Through the realms of the monarch Sun 
Creeps a world, whose course had begun, 
On a weary path with a weary pace. 
Before the Earth sprang forth on her race : 
But many a time the Earth had sped 
Around the path she still must tread, 
Ere the elder planet, on leaden wing, 
Once circled the court of the planet's king. 

" There, in that lonely and distant star. 
The seasons are not as our seasons are ; 
But many a year path Autumn to dress 
The trees in their matron loveliness ; 
As long hath old "Winter in triumph to go 
O'er beauties dead in his vaults below ; 
And many a year the Spring doth wear, 
Combing the icicles from her hair ; 
And Summer, dear Summer, hath years of June, 
With large white clouds, and cool showers at noon ; 
And a beauty that grows to a weight like grief. 
Till a burst of tears is the heart's relief. 

" Children, born when Winter is king, 
May never rejoice in the hoping Spring ; 
Though their own heart-buds are bursting with joy, 
And the child hath grown to the girl or boy ; 
But may die with cold and icy hours 
Watching them ever in place of flowers. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 121 

And some who awake from their primal sleep, 

When the sighs of Summer through forests creep, 

Live, and love, and are loved again; 

Seek for pleasure, and find its pain ; 

Sink to their last, their forsaken sleeping, 

With the same sweet odors around them creeping." 

Now the children, there, are not born as the children are 
born in worlds nearer to the sun ; for they arrive no one 
knows how. A maiden, walking alone, hears a cry ; for 
even there a cry is the first utterance ; and, searching 
about, she findeth, under an overhanging rock, or within a 
clump of bushes, or, it may be, betwixt gray stones on the 
side of a hill, or in any other sheltered and unexpected 
spot, a little child. This she taketh tenderly, and beareth 
home with joy, calling out, " Mother ! mother ! " — if so 
be that her mother lives — " I have got a baby — I have 
found a child!" All the household gathers round to 
see: ^- Where is it? What is it like? WJiere did 
you find it?^'' and such-like questions abounding. And 
thereupon she relates the whole story of the discovery ; for 
by the circumstances, such as season of the year, time of 
the day, condition of the air, and such like, and, especially, 
the peculiar and never-repeated aspect of the heavens and 
earth at the time, and the nature of the place of shelter 
wherein it is found, is determined, or at least indicated, the 
nature of the child thus discovered. Therefore, at certain 
seasons, and in certain states of the weather, according, in 



122 PHANTASIES : 

part, to their own fancj, the young women go out to look 
for children. They generally avoid seeking them, though 
they cannot help sometimes finding them, in places and 
with circumstances uncongenial to their peculiar likings. 
But no sooner is a child found than its claim for protec- 
tion and nurture obliterates all feeling of choice in the 
matter. Chiefly, however, in the season of summer, 
which lasts so long, coming as it does after such long inter- 
vals, and mostly in the warm evenings about the middle 
of twilight, and principally in the woods and along the 
river-banks, do the maidens go looking for children, just as 
children look for flowers. And ever as the child grows, 
yea, more and more as he advances in years, will his face 
indicate to those who understand the spirit of nature, and 
her utterances in the face of the world, the nature of the 
place of his birth, and the other circumstances thereof; 
whether a clear morning sun guided his mother to the nook 
whence issued the boy's low cry, or at eve the lonely 
maiden (for the same woman never finds a second, at least 
while the first lives) discovers the girl by the glimmer of 
her white skin, lying in a nest, like that of the lark, amid 
long encircling grasses, and the upward-gazing eyes of the 
lowly daisies ; whether the storm bowed the forest-trees 
around, or the still frost fixed in silence the else flowing 
and babbling stream. 

After they grow up. the men and women are but little 
together. There is this peculiar difference between them, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 123 

which likewise distinguishes the women from those of the 
earth. The men alone have arms ; the women have only 
wings. Eesplendent wings are they, wherein they can 
shroud themselves from head to foot in a panoply of glister- 
ing glory. By these wings alone, it may frequently be 
judged in what seasons and under what aspects they were 
born. From those that came in winter go great white 
wings, white as snow, the edge of every feather shining 
like the sheen of silver, so that they flash and glitter like 
frost in the sun; but underneath they are tinged with a 
faint pink or rose-color. Those born in spring have wings 
of a brilliant green, green as grass ; and towards the edges 
the feathers are enamelled like the surface of the grass- 
blades. These again are white within. Those that are 
born in summer have wings of a deep rose-color, lined Avith 
pale gold. And those born in autumn have purple wings, 
with a rich brown on the inside. But these colors are 
modified and altered in all varieties, corresponding to the 
mood of the day and hour, as well as the season of the 
year ; and sometimes I found the various colors so inter- 
mingled that I could not determine even the season, 
though doubtless the hieroglyphic could be deciphered by 
more experienced eyes. One splendor, in particular, I 
remember, — wings of deep carmine, with an inner down 
of warm gray, around a form of brilliant whiteness. She 
had been found as the sun went down through a low sea-fof; 



124 PHANTASTES : 

casting crimson along a broad sea-path into a little cave on 
the shore, "where a bathing maiden saw her lying. 

But though I speak of sun and fog, and sea and shore, 
the world there is in some respects very different from the 
earth whereon men live. For instance, the waters reflect 
no forms. To the unaccustomed eye they appear, if undis- 
turbed, like the surface of a dark metal, only that the 
latter would reflect indistinctly, whereas they reflect not at 
all, except light which falls immediately upon them. This 
has a great effect in causing the landscapes to differ from 
those on the earth. On the stillest evening, no tall ship 
on the sea sends a long wavering reflection almost to the 
feet of him on the shore ; the face of no maiden brightens 
at its own beauty in a still forest-well. The sun and moon 
alone make a glitter on the surface. The sea is like a sea 
of death, ready to ingulf and never to reveal : a visible 
shadow of oblivion. Yet the women sport in its waters like 
gorgeous sea-birds. The men more rarely enter them. 
But, on the contrary, the sky reflects everything beneath 
it, as if it were built of waters like ours. Of course, from 
its concavity there is some distortion of the reflected ob- 
jects ; yet wondrous combinations of forms are often to be 
seen in the overhanging depth. And then it is not shaped 
so much like a round dome as the sky of the earth, but, 
more of an egg-shape, rises to a great, towering height in 
the middle, appearing far more lofty than the other. When 
the stars come out at night, it shows a mighty cupola, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 125 

"fretted with golden fires," wherein there is room for all 
tempests to rush and rave. 

One evening in early summer, I stood with a group of 
men and women on a steep rock that overhung the sea. 
They were all questioning me about my world and the 
ways thereof. In making reply to one of their questions, 
I was compelled to say that children are not born in the 
Earth as with them. Upon this I was assailed with a 
whole battery of inquiries, which at first I tried to avoid ; 
but at last I was compelled, in the vaguest manner I could 
invent, to make some approach to the subject in question. 
Immediately a dim notion of what I meant seemed to 
dawn in the minds of most of the women. Some of them 
folded their great wings all around them, as they generally 
do when in the least offended, and stood erect and motion- 
less. One spread out her rosy pinions, and flashed from 
the promontory into the gulf at its foot. A great light 
shone in the eyes of one maiden, who turned and walked 
slowly away, with her purple and white wings half dis- 
pread behind her. She was found the next morning, dead 
beneath a withered tree, on a bare hill-side, some miles 
inland. They buried her where she lay, as is their cus- 
tom ; for, before they die, they instinctively search for a 
spot like the place of their birth, and, having found one 
that satisfies them, they lie down, fold their wings around 
them, if they be women, or cross their arms over their 
breasts, if they are men, just as if they were going to sleep ; 



126 PHANTASIES : 

and so sleep indeed. The sign or cause of coming death is 
an indescribable longing for something, they know not 
what, which seizes them, and drives them into solitude, con- 
suming them within till the body fails. When a youth 
and a maiden look too deep into each other's eyes, this 
longing seizes and possesses them ; but instead of drawing 
nearer to each other, they wander away, each alone, into 
solitary places, and die of their desire. But it seems to 
me that thereafter they are born babes upon our earth ; 
where if, when grown, they find each other, it goes well 
with them ; if not, it will seem to go ill. But of this I 
kiiow nothing. When I told them that the women on the 
Earth had not wings like them, but arms, they stared, and 
said how bold and masculine they must look ; not knowing 
that their wings, glorious as they are, are but undeveloped 
arms. 

But see the power of this book, that, while recounting 
what I can recall of its contents, I write as if myself had 
visited the far-off planet, learned its ways and appearances, 
and conversed with its men and women. And so, while 
'writing, it seemed to me that I had. 

The book goes on with the story of a maiden, who, born 
at the close of autumn, and living in a long, to her endless, 
winter, set out at last to find the regions of spring ; for, as 
in our earth, the seasons are divided over the globe. It 
begins something like this : — 



A FAEKIE ROMANCE. 127 

" She watched them dying for many a day, 
Dropping from off the old trees away, 
One by one ; or else in a shower 
Crowding over the withered flower. 
For, as if they had done some grievous wrong, 
The sun, that had nursed them and loved them so long, 
Grew weary of loving, and, turning back. 
Hastened away on his southern track ; 
And helplessly hung each shrivelled leaf, 
Faded away with an idle grief. 
And the gusts of wind, sad Autumn's sighs, 
Mournfully swept through their families ; 
Casting away with a helpless teoan 
All that he yet might call his own. 
As the child, when his bird is gone forever, 
Flingeth the cage on the wandering river. 
And the giant trees, as bare as Death, 
Slowly bowed to the great Wind's breath. 
And groaned with trying to keep from groaning 
Amidst the young trees bending and moaning. 
And the ancient planet's mighty sea 
Was heaving and falling most restlessly, 
And the tops of the waves were broken and white, 
Tossing about to ease their might ; 
And the river was striving to reach the main, 
And the ripple was hurrying back again. 
Nature lived in sadness now ; 
Sadness lived on the maiden's brow, 
As she watched, with a fixed, half-conscious eye. 
One lonely leaf that trembled on high, 
Till it dropped at last from the desolate bough ; 
Sorrow, oh, sorrow ! 'tis winter now. 
And her tears gushed forth, though it was but a leaf. 
For little will loose the swollen fountain of grief: 



128 PHANTASTES : 

When up to the lip the water goes, 
It needs but a drop, and it overflows. 

" Oh ! many and many a dreary year 
Must pass away ere the buds appear ; 
Many a night of darksome sorrow 
Yield to the light of a joyless morrow, 
Ere birds again, on the clothed trees, 
Shall fill the branches with melodies. 
She will dream of meadows with wakeful streams ; 
Of wavy grass in the sunny beams ; 
Of hidden wells that soundless spring. 
Hoarding their joy as a holy thing; 
Of founts that tell it all day long 
To the listening woods, with exultant song ; 
She will dream of evenings that die into nights, 
Where each sense is filled with its own delights, 
And the soul is still as the vaulted sky. 
Lulled with an inner harmony ; 
And the flowers give out to the dewy night, 
Changed into perfume, the gathered light ; 
And the darkness sinks upon all their host. 
Till the sun sail up on the eastern coast ; 
She will wake and see the branches bare. 
Weaving a net in the frozen air." 

The story goes on to tell how, at last, weary with 
wintriness, she travelled towards the southern regions of 
her globe, to meet the spring on its slow way northwards ; 
and how, after many sad adventures, many disappointed 
hopes, and many tears, bitter and fruitless, she found at 
last, one stormy afternoon, in a leafless forest, a single 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 129 

snow-drop growing betwixt the borders of the winter and 
spring. She lay down beside it and died. I almost 
believe that a child, pale and peaceful as a snow-drop, was 
born in the Earth within a fixed season from that stormy 
afternoon. 



130 PHANTASIES : 



XIII. 

I saw a ship sailing upon the sea, 
Deeply laden as ship could be ; 
But not so deep as in love I am, 
For I care not whether I sink or swim. 

Old Ballad. 



But Love is such a Mystery 

I cannot find it out : 
For when I think I'm best resolved, 

I then am in most doubt. 

SiK John Suckling. 

One story I "will try to reproduce. But, alas ! it is 
like trying to reconstruct a forest out of broken branches 
and ■withered leaves. In the fairy book, everything "was 
just as it should be, though "whether in "words or something 
else, I cannot tell. It glo"wed and flashed the thoughts 
upon the soul, with such a power that the medium disap- 
peared from the consciousness, and it was occupied only 
with the things themselves. My representation of it must 
resemble a translation from a rich and powerful language, 
capable of embodying the thoughts of a splendidly devel- 
oped people, into the meagre and half-articulate speech of 
a savage tribe. Of course, while I read it, I was Cosmo, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 131 

and his history was mine. Yet all the time I seemed to 
have a kind of double consciousness, and the story a double 
meaning. Sometimes it seemed only to represent a simple 
story of ordinary life, perhaps almost of universal life ; 
wherein two souls, loving each other and longing to come 
nearer, do, after all, but behold each other as in a glass 
darkly. 

As through the hard rock go the branchino^ silver veins ; 
as into the solid land run the creeks and gulfs from the 
unresting sea ; as the lights and influences of the upper 
worlds sink silently through the earth's atmosphere ; so 
doth Faerie invade the world of men, and sometimes startle 
the common eye with an association as of cause and effect, 
when between the two no connecting links can be traced. 

Cosmo von Wehrstahl was a student at the University 
of Prague. Though of a noble family, he was poor, and 
prided himself upon the independence that poverty gives ; 
for what will not a man pride himself upon, when he 
cannot get rid of it ? A favorite with his fellow-students, 
he yet had no companions ; and none of them had ever 
crossed the threshold of his lodging in the top of one of 
the highest houses in the old town. Indeed, the secret of 
much of that complaisance which recommended him to his 
fellows was the thought of his unknown retreat, whither 
in the evening he could betake himself, and indulge undis- 
turbed in his own studies and reveries. These studies, 



132 PHANTASTES: 

besides those subjects necessary to his course at the Univer- 
sity, embraced some less commonly known and approved ; 
for in a secret drawer lay the works of Albertus Magnus 
and Cornelius Agrippa, along with others less read and 
more abstruse. As yet, however, he had followed these 
researches only from curiosity, and had turned them to no 
practical purpose. 

His lodging consisted of one large, low-ceiled room, 
singularly bare of furniture ; for besides a couple of 
wooden chairs, a couch which served for dreaming on both 
by day and night, and a great press of black oak, there 
was very little in the room that could be called furniture. 
But curious instruments were heaped in the corners ; and 
in one stood a skeleton, half-leaning against the wall, half- 
supported by a string about its neck. One of its hands, 
all of fingers, rested on the heavy pommel of a great sword 
that stood beside it. Various weapons were scattered about 
over the floor. The walls were utterly bare of adornment ; 
for the few strange things, such as a large dried bat with 
its wings dispread, the skin of a porcupine, and a stufied 
sea-mouse, could hardly be reckoned as such. But, 
although his fancy delighted in vagaries like these, he 
indulged his imagination with far dijBFerent fare. His mind 
had never yet been filled with an absorbing passion ; but 
it lay like a still twilight open to any wind, whether the 
low breath that wafts but odors, or the storm that bows 
the great trees till they strain and creak. He saw every- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 133 

thing as through a rose-colored glass. When he looked 
from his window on the street below, not a maiden passed 
but she moved as in a story, and drew his thoughts after 
her till she disappeared in the vista. When he walked in 
the streets, he always felt as if reading a tale, into which 
he sought to weave every face of interest that went by ; 
and every sweet voice swept his soul as with the wing of a 
passing angel. He was in fact a poet without words ; the 
more absorbed and endangered, that the springing waters 
were dammed back into his soul, where, finding no utter- 
ance, they grew, and swelled, and undermined. He used 
to lie on his hard couch, and read a tale or a poem till the 
book dropped from his hand ; but he dreamed on, he knew 
not whether awake or asleep, until the opposite roof grew 
upon his sense, and turned golden in the sunrise. Then 
he arose too; and the impulses of vigorous youth kept 
him ever active, either in study or in sport, until again the 
close of the day left him free, and the world of night, 
which had lain drowned in the cataract of the day, rose up 
in his soul, with all its stars and dim-seen phantom 
shapes. But this could hardly last long. Some one form 
must sooner or later step within the charmed circle, enter 
the house of life, and compel the bewildered magician to 
kneel and worship. 

One afternoon, towards dusk, he was wandering dreamily 
in one of the principal streets, when a fellow-student 
roused him by a slap on the shoulder, and asked him to 



lo4 PHANTASTES: 

accompany him into a little back alley to look at some old 
armor which he had taken a fancy to possess. Cosmo was 
considered an authority in every matter pertaining to arms, 
ancient or modern. In the use of weapons, none of the 
students could come near him ; and his practical acquaint- 
ance with some had principally contributed to establish his 
authority in reference to all. He accompanied him will- 
ingly. They entered a narrow alley, and thence a dirty 
little court, where a low arched door admitted them into a 
heterogeneous assemblage of everything musty, and dusty, 
and old, that could well be imagined. His verdict on the 
armor was satisfactory, and his companion at once con- 
cluded the purchase. As they were leaving the place, 
Cosmo's eye was attracted by an old mirror, of an elliptical 
shape, which leaned against the wall, covered with dust. 
Around it was some curious carving, which he could see 
but very indistinctly by the glimmering light which the 
owner of the shop carried in his hand. It was this carving 
that attracted his attention ; at least so it appeared to him. 
He left the place, however, with his friend, taking no 
further notice of it. They walked together to the main 
street, where they parted and took opposite directions. 

No sooner was Cosmo left alone than the thought of the 
curious old mirror returned to him. A strong desire to 
see it more plainly arose within him, and he directed his 
steps once more towards the shop. The owner opened the 
door when he knocked, as if he had expected him. He was 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 135 

a little, old, withered man, with a hooked nose, and burn- 
ing eyes constantly in a slow, restless motion, and looking 
here and there as if after something that eluded them. 
Pretending to examine several other articles, Cosmo at last 
approached the mirror, and requested to have it taken 
down. 

"Take it down yourself, master; I cannot reach it," 
said the old man. 

Cosmo took it down carefully, when he saw that the 
carving was indeed delicate and costly, being both of ad- 
mirable design and execution, containing withal many 
devices which seemed to embody some meaning to which he 
had no clue. This, naturally, in one of his tastes and tem- 
perament, increased the interest he felt in the old mirror ; 
so much, indeed, that he now longed to possess it, in order 
to study its frame at his leisure. He pretended, however, 
to want it only for use ; and saying he feared the plate 
could be of little service, as it was rather old, he brushed 
away a little of the dust from its face, expecting to see a 
dull reflection within. His surprise was great when he 
found the reflection brilliant, revealing a glass not only 
uninjured by age, but wondrously clear and perfect 
(should the whole correspond to this part), even for one 
newly from the hands of the maker. He asked carelessly 
what the owner wanted for the thing. The old man replied 
by mentioning a sum of money far beyond the reach of poor 



136 PHANTASTES : 

Cosmo, who proceeded to replace the mirror where it had 
stood before. 

'• You think the price too high? " said the old man. 

" I do not know that it is too much for you to ask," 
replied Cosmo ; " but it is far too much for me to give." 

The old man held up his light towards Cosmo's face. 
"I like your look," said he. 

Cosmo could not return the compliment. In fact, now 
he looked closely at him for the first time, he felt a kind of 
repugnance to him, mingled with a strange feeling of doubt 
whether a man or a woman stood before him. 

" What is your name? " he continued. 

" Cosmo von TVehrstahl." 

"Ah, ah! I thought as much. I see your father in 
you. I knew your father very well, young sir. I dare 
say, in some odd corners of my house, you might find some 
old things with his crest and cipher upon them still. Well, 
I like you ; you shall have the mirror at the fourth part of 
what I asked for it ; but upon one condition." 

"What is that?" said Cosmo; for, although the price 
was still a great deal for him to give, he could just manage 
it ■; and the desire to possess the mirror had increased to an 
altogether unaccountable degree since it had seemed be- 
yond his reach. 

"That if you should ever want to get rid of it again, 
you will let me have the first oflfer." 



A FAEEIE ROMANCE. 137 

"Certainly," replied Cosmo, with a smile; adding, "a 
moderate condition indeed." 

" On your honor? " insisted the seller. 

" On my honor ! " said the buyer ; and the bargain was 
concluded. 

"I will carry it home for you," said the old man, as 
Cosmo took it in his hands. 

" No, no ; I will carry it myself," said he ; for he had a 
peculiar dislike to revealing his residence to any one, and 
more especially to this person, to whom he felt every mo- 
ment a greater antipathy. 

"Just as you please," said the old creature, and mut- 
tered to himself as he held his light at the door to show 
him out of the court : " Sold for the sixth time ! I wonder 
what will be the upshot of it this time. I should think my 
lady had enough of it by now ! " 

Cosmo carried his prize carefully home. But all the 
way he had an uncomfortable feeling that he was watched 
and dogged. Repeatedly he looked about, but saw nothing 
to justify his suspicions. Indeed, the streets were too 
ill-lighted to expose very readily a careful spy, if such 
there should be at his heels. He reached his lodging in 
safety, and leaned his purchase against the wall, rather 
relieved, strong as he was, to be rid of its weight ; then, 
lighting his pipe, threw himself on the couch, and was soon 
lapped in the folds of one of his haunting dreams. 

He returned home earlier than usual the next day, and 



138 PHANTASTES : 

fixed the mirror to the wall, over the hearth, at one end of 
his long room. He then carefully wiped away the dust 
from its face, and, clear as the water of a sunny spring, the 
mirror shone out from beneath the envious covering. But 
his interest was chiefly occupied with the curious carving 
of the frame. This he cleaned as well as he could with a 
brush ; and then he proceeded to a minute examination of 
its various parts, in the hope of discovering some index to 
the intention of the carver. In this, however, he was 
unsuccessful ; and, at length, pausing with some weariness 
and disappointment, he gazed vacantly for a few moments 
into the depth of the reflected room. But ere long he said, 
half aloud, "What a strange thing a mirror is ! and what 
a wondrous affinity exists between it and a man's imagi- 
nation ! For this room of mine, as I behold it in the glass, 
is the same, and yet not the same. It is not the mere rep- 
resentation of the room I live in, but it looks just as if I 
were reading about it in a story I like. All its common- 
ness has disappeared. The mirror has lifted it out of the 
region of fact into the realm of art ; and the very represent- 
ing of it to me has clothed with interest that which was 
otherwise hard and bare ; just as one sees with delight 
upon the stage the representation of a character from which 
one would escape in life as from something unendurably 
wearisome. But is it not rather that art rescues nature 
from the weary ■ and sated regards of our senses, and the 
degrading injustice of our anxious every-day life, and, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 139 

appealing to the imagination, which dwells apart, reveals 
nature in some degree as she really is, and as she repre- 
sents herself to the eye of the child, whose every-day life, 
fearless and unambitious, meets the true import of the 
wonder-teeming world around him, and rejoices therein 
without questioning ? That skeleton, now, — I almost fear 
it, standing there so still, with eyes only for the unseen, 
like a watch-tower looking across all the waste of this busy 
world into the quiet regions of rest beyond. And yet I 
know every bone and every joint in it as well as my own 
fist. And that old battle-axe looks as if any moment it 
might be caught up by a mailed hand, and, borne forth by 
the mighty arm, go crushing through casque, and skull, 
and brain, invading the Unknown with yet another be- 
wildered ghost. I should like to live in that room if I 
could only get into it." 

Scarcely had the half-moulded words floated from him, 
as he stood gazing into the mirror, when, striking him as 
with a flash of amazement that fixed him in his posture, 
noiseless and unannounced, glided suddenly through the 
door into the reflected room, with stately motion, yet re- 
luctant and faltering step, the graceful form of a woman, 
clothed all in white. Her back only was visible as she 
walked slowly up to the couch in the further end of the 
room, on which she laid herself Avearily, turning towards 
him a face of unutterable loveliness, in which sufiering, and 
dislike, and a sense of compulsion, strangely mingled with 



140 PHANTASTES : 

the beauty. He stood without the power of motion for 
some moments, with his eyes irrecoverably fixed upon her ; 
and, even after he was conscious of the ability to move, he 
could not summon up courage to turn and look on her, face 
to face, in the veritable chamber in which he stood. At 
length, with a sudden effort, in which the exercise of the 
will was so pure that it seemed involuntary, he turned his 
face to the couch. It was vacant. In bewilderment, 
mingled with terror, he turned again to the mirror ; there, 
on the reflected couch, lay the exquisite lady-form. She 
lay with closed eyes, whence two large tears were just well- 
ing from beneath the veiling lids ; still as death, save for 
the convulsive motion of her bosom. 

Cosmo himself could not have described what he felt. 
His emotions were of a kind that destroyed consciousness, 
and could never be clearly recalled. He could not help 
standing yet by the mirror, and keeping his eyes fixed on 
the lady, though he was painfully aware of his rudeness, 
and feared every moment that she would open hers and 
meet his fixed regard. But he was ere long a little re- 
lieved; for after a while her eyelids slowly rose, and her 
eyes remained uncovered, but unemployed for a time ; and 
when, at length, they began to wander about the room, as 
if languidly seeking to make some acquaintance with her 
environment, they were never directed towards him : it 
seemed nothing but what was in the mirror could affect her 
vision ; and, therefore, if she saw him at all, it could only 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 141 

be his back, which of necessity was turned towards her in 
the glass. The two figures in the mirror could not meet 
face to face, except he turned and looked at her, present in 
his room ; and, as she was not there, he concluded that if 
he were to turn towards the part in his room corresponding 
to that in which she lay, his reflection would either be in- 
visible to her altogether, or at least it must appear to her to 
gaze vacantly towards her, and no meeting of the eyes 
would produce the impression of spiritual proximity. By 
and by her eyes fell upon the skeleton, and he saw her 
shudder and close them. She did not open them again, but 
signs of repugnance continued evident on her countenance. 
Cosmo would have removed the obnoxious thing at once, 
but he feared to discompose her yet more by the assertion 
of his presence, which the act would involve. So he stood 
and watched her. The eyelids yet shrouded the eyes, as a 
costly case the jewels within; the troubled expression 
gradually faded from the countenance, leaving only a faint 
sorrow behind ; the features settled into an unchanging ex- 
pression of rest; and by these signs, and the slow, regular 
motion of her breathing, Cosmo knew that she slept. He 
could now gaze on her without embarrassment. He saw 
that her figure, dressed in the simplest robe of white, was 
worthy of. her face; and so harmonious, that either the 
delicately moulded foot, or any finger of the equally deli- 
cate hand, was an index to the whole. As she lay, her 
whole form manifested the relaxation of perfect repose. He 



142 PHANTASTES : 

gazed till he was weary, and at last seated himself near 
the new-found shrine, and mechanically took up a book, 
like one who watches by a sick-bed. But his eyes gathered 
no thoughts from the page before him. His intellect had 
been stunned by the bold contradiction, to its face, of all 
its experience, and now lay passive, without assertion, or 
speculation, or even conscious astonishment; while his 
imagination sent one wild dream of blessedness after another 
coursing^through his soul. How long he sat he knew not ; 
but at length he roused himself, rose, and, trembling in 
every portion of his frame, looked again into the mirror. 
She was gone. The mirror reflected faithfully what his 
room presented, and nothing more. It stood there like a 
golden setting whence the central jewel has been stolen 
away ; like a night-sky without the glory of its stars. 
She htid carried with her all the strangeness of the reflected 
room. It had sunk to the level of the one without. But 
when the first pangs of his disappointment had passed 
Cosmo began to comfort himself with the hope that she 
might return, perhaps the next evening, at the same hour. 
Resolving that, if she did, she should not at least be scared 
by the hateful skeleton, he removed that, and several other 
articles of questionable appearance, into a recess by the side 
of the hearth, whence they could not possibly cast any 
reflection into the mirror ; and, having made his poor room 
as tidy as he could, sought the solace of the open sky and 
ci a night wind that had begun to blow ; for he could not 



A FAEKIE ROMANCE. 143 

rest where he was. When he returned, somewhat com- 
posed, he could hardly prevail with himself to lie down on 
his bed ; for he could not help feeling as if she had lain 
upon it ; and for him to lie there now would be something 
like sacrilege. However, weariness prevailed ; and, laying 
himself on the couch, dressed as he was, he slept till day. 

With a beating heart, beating till he could hardly 
breathe, he stood in dumb hope before the mirror, on the 
following evening. Again the reflected room shone as 
through a purple vapor in the gathering twilight. Every- 
thing seemed waiting like himself for a coming splendor to 
glorify its poor earthliness with the presence of a heavenly 
joy. And just as the room vibrated with the strokes of the 
neighboring church-bell, announcing the hour of six, in 
glided the pale beauty, and again laid herself on the couch. 
Poor Cosmo nearly lost his senses with delight. She was 
there once more ! Her eyes sought the corner where the 
skeleton had stood, and a faint gleam of satisfaction crossed 
her face, apparently at seeing it empty. She looked suf- 
fering still, but there was less of discomfort expressed in 
her countenance than there had been the night before. 
She took more notice of the things about her, and seemed 
to gaze with some curiosity on the strange apparatus stand- 
ing here and there in her room. At length, however, 
drowsiness seemed to overtake her, and again she fell 
asleep. Resolved not to lose sight of her this time, Cosmo 
watched the sleeping form. Her slumber was so deep and 



144 PHANTASIES : 

absorbing that a fascinating repose seemed to pass con- 
tagiously from her to him as he gazed upon her ; and he 
started, as if awaking from a dream, when the lady moved, 
xand, without opening her eyes, rose, and passed from the 
room with the gait of a somnambulist. 

Cosmo was now in a state of extravagant delight. Most 
men have a secret treasure somewhere. The miser has his 
golden hoard ; the virtuoso his pet ring ; the student his 
rare book ; the poet his favorite haunt ; the lover his secret 
drawer ; but Cosmo had a mirror with a lovely lady in it. 
And now that he knew by the skeleton that she was 
ajGfected by the things around her, he had a new object in 
life : he would turn the bare chamber in the mirror into a . 
room such as no lady need disdain to call her own. This 
he could effect only by furnishing and adorning his. And 
Cosmo was poor. Yet he possessed accomplishments that 
could be turned to account ; although, hitherto, he had pre- 
ferred living on his slender allowance to increasing his 
means by what his pride considered unworthy of his rank. 
He was the best swordsman in the University ; and now he 
offered to give lessons in fencing and similar exercises to 
such as chose to pay him well for the trouble. His pro- 
posal was heard with surprise by the students, but it was 
eagerly accepted by many ; and soon his instructions were 
not confined to the richer students, but were anxiously 
sought by many of the young nobility of Prague and its 
neighborhood ; so that very soon he had a good deal of 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 145 

money at his command. The first thing he did was to re- 
move his apparatus and oddities into a closet in the room. 
Then he placed his bed and a few other necessaries on each 
side of the hearth, and parted them from the rest of the 
room by two screens of Indian fabric. Then he put an ele- 
gant couch for the lady to lie upon, in the corner where his 
bed had formerly stood ; and, by degrees, every day adding 
some article of luxury, converted it, at length, into a rich 
boudoir. 

Every night, about the same time, the lady entered. 
The first time she saw the new couch she started with a 
half-smile ; then her face grew very sad, the tears came to 
her eyes, and she laid herself upon the couch, and pressed 
her face into the silken cushions, as if to hide from every- 
thing. She took notice of each addition and each change 
as the work proceeded ; and a look of acknowledgment, as 
if she knew that some one was ministering to her. and was 
grateful for it, mingled with the constant look of suffering. 
At length, after she had lain down as usual one evening, 
her eyes fell upon some paintings with which Cosmo had 
just finished adorning the walls. She rose, and, to his 
great delight, walked across the room, and proceeded to ex- 
amine them carefully, testifying much pleasure in her looks 
as she did so. But again the sorrowful, tearful expression 
returned, and again she buried her face in the pillows of 
her couch. Gradually, however, her countenance had 
grown more composed ; much of the sufiering manifest on 

10 



146 PHANTASTES : 

her first appearance had vanished, and a kind of quiet, 
hopeful expression had taken its place; which, however, 
frequently gave way to an anxious, troubled look, mingled 
with something of sympathetic pity. 

Meantime,, how fared Cosmo ? As might be expected, in 
one of his temperament, his interest had blossomed into 
love, and his love, — shall I call it ripened^ or — loitliered 
into passion ? But, alas ! he loved a shadow. He could 
not come near her, could not speak to her, could not hear a 
sound from those sweet lips, to which his longing eyes 
would cling like bees to their honey-founts. Ever and 
anon he sang to himself: — 

" I shall die for love of the maiden ; " 

and ever he looked again, and died not, though his heart 
seemed ready to break with intensity of life and longing ; 
and the more he did for her, the more he loved her ; and 
he hoped that although she never appeared to see him, yet 
she was pleased to think that one unknown would give his 
life to her. He tried to comfort himself over his separation 
from her, by thinking that perhaps some day she would 
see him, and make signs to him, and that would satisfy 
him; "for," thought he, "is not this all that a loving 
soul can do to enter into communion with another ? Nay, 
how many who love never come nearer than to behold each 
other as in a mirror ; seem to know and yet never know 
the inward life ; never enter the other soul ; and part at 



A FAERIE ROMANCE, 147 

last with but the vagufest notion of the universe on the bor- 
ders of which thej have been hovering for years ? If I 
could but speak to her, and knew that she heard me. I 
should be satisfied." Once he contemplated painting a pic- 
ture on the wall, which should of necessity convey to the 
lady a thought of himself; but, though he had some skill 
with the pencil, he found his hand tremble so much, when 
he began the attempt, that he was forced to give it up. 

One evening, as he stood gazing on his treasure, he 
thought he saw a faint expression of self-consciousness on 
her countenance, as if she surmised that passionate eyes 
were fixed upon her. This grew, till at last the red blood 
rose over her neck, and cheek, and brow. Cosmo's longing 
to approach her became almost delirious. This night she 
"was dressed in an evening costume, resplendent with dia- 
monds. This could add nothing to her beauty, but it 
presented it in a new aspect; enabled her loveliness to 
make a new manifestation of itself in a new embodiment. 
For essential beauty is infinite ; and, as the soul of 
Nature needs an endless succession of varied forms to 
embody her loveliness, countless faces of beauty springing 
forth, not any two the same, at every one of her heart- 
throbs ; so the individual form needs an infinite change of 
its environments, to enable it to uncover all the phases of 
its loveliness. Diamonds glittered from amidst her hair, 
half-hidden in its luxuriance, like stars through dark rain- 
clouds ; and the bracelets on her white arms flashed all the 



148 PHANTASIES : 

colors of a rainbow of lightnings, as she lifted her snowy 
hands to cover her burning face. But her beauty shone 
down all its adornment. "If I might have but one of her 
feet to kiss," thought Cosmo, "I should be content." 
Alas ! he deceived himself, for passion is never content. 
Nor did he know that there are tiuo ways out of her 
enchanted house. But. suddenly, as if the pang had been 
driven into his heart from without, revealing itself first in 
pain, and afterwards in definite form, the thought darted 
into his mind, " She has a lover somewhere. Remembered 
words of his bring the color on her face now. I am no- 
where to her. She lives in another world all day, and all 
night, after she leaves me. Why does she come and make 
me love her, till I, a strong man, am too faint to look upon 
her more?" He looked again, and her face was pale as a 
lily. A sorrowful compassion seemed to rebuke the glitter 
of the restless jewels, and the slow tears rose in her eyes. 
She left her room sooner this evening than was her wont. 
Cosmo remained alone, with a feeling as if his bosom had 
been suddenly left empty and hollow, and the weight of 
the whole world was crushing in its walls. The next 
evening, for the first time since she began to come, she 
came not. 

And now Cosmo was in wretched plight. Since the 
thought of a rival had occurred to him he could not rest 
for a moment. More than ever he longed to see the lady 
face to face. He persuaded himself that if he but knew 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 149 

the worst he would be satisfied ; for then he could abandon 
Prague, and find that relief in constant motion which is 
the hope of all active minds when invaded by distress. 
Meantime he waited with unspeakable anxiety for the next 
night, hoping she would return ; but she did not appear. 
And now he fell really ill. Rallied by his fellow-students 
on his wretched looks, he ceased to attend the lectures. 
His engagements were neglected. He cared for nothing. 
The sky, with the great sun in it, was to him a heartless, 
burning desert. The men and women in the streets were 
mere puppets, without motives in themselves, or interest to 
him. He saw them all as on the ever-changing field of a 
camera obscura. She — she alone and altogether — was 
his universe, his well of life, his incarnate good. For six 
evenings she came not. Let his absorbing passion, and the 
slow fever that was consuming his brain, be his excuse for 
the resolution which, he had taken and begun to execute 
before that time had expired. 

Reasoning with himself that it must be by some 
enchantment connected with the mirror that the form of 
the lady was to be seen in it, he determined to attempt to 
turn to account what he had hitherto studied principally 
from curiosity. "For," said he to himself, " if a spell 
can force her presence in that glass (and she came unwill- 
ingly at first), may not a stronger spell, such as I know, 
especially with the aid of her half-presence in the mirror, 
if ever she appears again, compel her living form to come 



150 PHANTASTES : 

to me here ? If I do her wrong, let love be my excuse. 
I want only to know my doom from her own lips." He 
never doubted all the time that she was a real, earthly 
woman; or, rather, that there was a woman, who, some- 
how or other, threw this reflection of her form into the 
magic mirror. 

He opened his secret drawer, took out his books of 
magic, lighted his lamp, and read and made notes from mid- 
night till three in the morning, for three successive nights. 
Then he replaced his books, and the next night went out 
in quest of the materials necessary for the conjuration. 
These were not easy to find ; for, in love-charms and all 
incantations of this nature, ingredients are employed 
scarcely fit to be mentioned, and for the thought even of 
which, in connection with her, he could only excuse him- 
self on the score of his bitter need. At length he suc- 
ceeded in procuring all he required, and on the seventh 
evening from that on which she had last appeared he 
found himself prepared for the exercise of unlawful and 
tyrannical power. 

He cleared the centre of the room ; stooped and drew a 
circle of red on the floor around the spot where he stood ; 
wrote in the four quarters mystical signs, and numbers 
which were all powers of seven or nine ; examined the 
whole ring carefully, to see that no smallest break had oc- 
curred in the circumference ; and then rose from his bend- 
ing posture. As he rose, the church clock struck seven, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 151 

and just as she had appeared the first time, reluctant, slow, 
and stately, glided in the lady. Cosmo trembled ; and 
when, turning, she revealed a countenance worn and wan, 
as with sickness or inward trouble, he grew faint, and felt 
as if he dared not proceed. But as he gazed on the face 
and form, which now possessed his whole soul to the ex- 
clusion of all other joys and griefs, the longing to speak to 
her, to know that she heard him, to hear from her one 
word in return, became so unendurable, that he suddenly 
and hastily resumed his preparations. Stepping carefully 
from the circle, he put a small brazier into its centre. He 
then set fire to its contents of charcoal, and while it 
burned up, opened his window and seated himself, waiting 
beside it. 

It was a sultry evening. The air was full of thunder. 
A sense of luxurious depression filled the brain. The sky 
seemed to have grown heavy, and to compress the air be- 
neath it. A kind of purplish tinge pervaded the atmos- 
phere, and through the open window came the scents of 
the distant fields, which all the vapors of the city could 
not quench. Soon the charcoal glowed. Cosmo sprinkled 
upon it the incense and other substances which he had com- 
pounded, and, stepping within the circle, turned his face 
from the brazier and towards the mirror. Then, fixing his 
eyes upon the face of the lady, he began with a trembling 
voice to repeat a powerful incantation. He had not gone 
far, before the lady grew pale ; and then, like a returning 



152 PHANTASTES : 

wave, the blood washed all its banks with its crimson tide, 
and she hid her face in her hands. Then he passed to a 
conjuration stronger yet. The lady rose and walked un- 
easily to and fro in her room. Another spell; and she 
seemed seeking with her eyes for some object on which 
they wished to rest. At length it seemed as if she sud- 
denly espied him ; for her eyes fixed themselves full and 
wide upon his, and she drew gradually, and somewhat un- 
willingly, close to her side of the mirror, just as if his eyes 
had fascinated her. Cosmo had never seen her so near 
before. Now, at least, eyes met eyes ; but he could not 
quite understand the expression of hers. They were full 
of tender entreaty, but there was something more that he 
could not interpret. Though his heart seemed to labor in 
his throat, he would allow no delight or agitation to turn 
him from his task. Looking still in her face, he passed on 
to the mightiest charm he knew. Suddenly the lady 
turned and walked out of the door of her reflected 
chamber. A moment after, she entered his room with 
veritable presence ; and, forgetting all his precautions, he 
sprang from the charmed circle, and knelt before her. 
There she stood, the living lady of his passionate visions, 
alone beside him, in a thundery twilight, and the glow of 
a magic fire. 

"Why," said the lady, with a trembling voice, "didst 
thou bring a poor maiden through the rainy streets 
alone?" 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. • 153 

"Because I am dying for love of thee; but I only 
brought thee from the mirror there." 

"Ah, the mirror ! " and she looked up at it, and shud- 
dered. " Alas ! I am but a slave while that mirror 
exists. But do not think it was the power of thy spell 
that drew me ; it was thy longing desire to see me that 
beat at the door of my heart till I was forced to yield." 

"Canst thou love me then?" said Cosmo, in a voice 
calm as death, but almost inarticulate with emotion. 

"I do not know," she replied sadly; "that I cannot 
tell, so long as I am bewildered with enchantments. It 
were indeed a joy too great, to lay my head on thy bosom 
and weep to death ; for I think thou lovest me, though I 
do not know ; but — " 

Cosmo rose from his knees. 

' ' I love thee as — nay, I know not what ; for since I 
loved thee, there is nothing else." 

He seized her hand : she withdrew it. 

" No, better not ; I am in thy power, and therefore I 
may not." 

She burst into tears, and, kneeling before him in her 
turn, said : — 

' ' Cosmo, if thou lovest me, set me free, even from thy- 
self ; break the mirror." 

" And shall I see thyself instead? " 

' ' That I cannot tell. I will not deceive thee ; we may 
never meet again." 



154 . PUANTASTES: 

A fierce struggle arose in Cosmo's bosom. Now she 
was ia his power. She did not dislike him at least, and he 
could see her when he would. To break the mirror would 
be to destroy his very life, to banish out of his universe 
the only glory it possessed. The whole world would be 
but a prison, if he annihilated the one window that looked 
into the paradise of love. Not yet pure in love, he hesi- 
tated. 

With a wail of sorrow, the lady rose to her feet. " Ah ! 
he loves me not ; he loves me not even as I love him ; and, 
alas ! I care more for his love than even for the freedom I 
ask." 

"I will not wait to be willing," cried Cosmo, and 
sprang to the corner where the great sword stood. 

Meantime it had grown very dark ; only the embers cast 
a red glow through the room. He seized the sword by the 
steel scabbard, and stood before the mirror ; but as he heaved 
a great blow at it with the heavy pommel, the blade slipped 
half-way out of the scabbard, and the pommel struck the 
wall above the mirror. At that moment a terrible clap of 
thunder seemed to burst in the very room beside them ; and 
ere Cosmo could repeat the blow he fell senseless on the 
hearth. When he came to himself he found that the lady 
and the mirror had both disappeared. He was seized with 
a brain fever, which kept him to his couch for weeks. 

When he recovered his reason, he began to think what 
could have become of the mirror. For the lady, he hoped 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 155 

she had found her way back as she came ; but as the mirror 
involved her fate with its own he was more immediately 
anxious about that. He could not think she had carried it 
away. It was much too heavy, even if it had not been too 
firmly fixed in the wall, for her to remove it. Then, again, 
he remembered the thunder, which made him believe that 
it was not the lightning, but some other blow, that had 
struck him down. He concluded that, either by super- 
natural agency, he having exposed himself to the vengeance 
of the demons in leaving the circle of safety, or in some 
other mode, the mirror had probably found its way back to 
its former owner ; and, horrible to think of, might have 
been by this time once more disposed of, delivering up the 
lady into the power of another man, who, if he used his 
power no worse than he himself had done, might yet give 
Cosmo abundant cause to curse the selfish indecision which 
prevented him from shattering the mirror at once. Indeed, 
to think that she whom he loved, and who had prayed to 
him for freedom, should be still at the mercy, in some 
degree, of the possessor of the mirror, and was at least 
exposed to his constant observation, was in itself enough to 
madden a chary lover. 

Anxiety to be well retarded his recovery ; but at length 
he was able to creep abroad. He first made his way to the 
old broker's, pretending to be in search of something else. 
A laughing sneer on the creature's face convinced him that 
he knew all about it ; but he could not see it amongst hia 



156 PHANTASIES : 

furniture, or get any information out of him as to what had 
become of it. He expressed the utmost surprise at hearing 
it had been stolen, — a surprise which Cosmo saw at once to 
be counterfeited ; while, at the same time, he fancied that 
the old wretch was not at all anxious to have it mistaken 
for genuine. Full of distress, which he concealed as well 
as he could, he made many searches, but with no avail. 
Of course he could ask no questions ; but he kept his ears 
awake for any remotest hint that might set him in a direc- 
tion of search. He never went out without a short, heavy 
hammer of steel about him, that he might shatter the mirror 
the moment he was made happy by the sight of his lost 
treasure, if ever that blessed moment should arrive. 
Whether he should see the lady again was now a thought 
altogether secondary, and postponed to the achievement of 
her freedom. He wandered here and there, like an anxious 
ghost, pale and haggard, gnawed ever at the heart by the 
thought of what she might be suffering — all from his 
fault. 

One night he mingled with a crowd that filled the rooms 
of one of the most distinguished mansions in the city ; for 
he accepted every invitation, that he might lose no chance, 
however poor, of obtaining some information that might 
expedite his discovery. Here he wandered about, listen- 
ing to every stray word that he could catch, in the hope of 
a revelation. As he approached some ladies who were 
talking quietly in a corner, one said to another, " Have 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 157 

you heard of the strange illness of the Princess von Hohen- 
weiss ? " 

" Yes; she has been ill for more than a year now. It 
is very sad for so fine a creature to have such a terrible 
malady. She was better for some weeks lately ; but within 
the last few days the same attacks have returned, appar- 
ently accompanied with more suffering than ever. It is 
altogether an inexplicable story." 

" Is there a story connected with her illness? " 

" I have only heard imperfect reports of it; but it is 
said that she gave offence some eighteen months ago to an 
old woman who had held an office of trust in the family, 
and who, after some incoherent threats, disappeared. This 
peculiar affection followed soon after. But the strangest 
part of the story is its association with the loss of an antique 
mirror, which stood in her dressing-room, and of which she 
constantly made use." 

Here the speaker's voice sank to a whisper ; and Cpsmo, 
although his very soul sat listening in his ears, could hear 
no more. He trembled too much to dare to address the 
ladies, even if it had been advisable to expose himself to 
their curiosity. The name of the princess was well known 
to him, but he had never seen her ; except indeed it was 
she, which now he hardly doubted, who had knelt before 
him on that dreadful night. Fearful of attracting atten- 
tion, for, from the weak state of his health, he could not 
recover an appearance of calmness, he made his way to the 



10» PHANTASTES: 

open air, and reached his lodgings ; glad in this, that he at 
least knew where she lived, although he never dreamed of 
approaching her openlj, even if he should be happy enough 
to free her from her hateful bondage. He hoped, too, that, 
as he had unexpectedly learned so much, the other and far 
more important part might be revealed to him ere long. 

" Have you seen Stein wald lately? " 

" No, I have not seen him for some time. He is almost 
a match for me at the rapier, and I suppose he thinks he 
needs no more lessons." 

" I wonder what has become of him. I want to see him 
very much. Let me see : the last time I saw him, he was 
coming out of that old broker's den, to which, if you remem- 
ber, you accompanied me once, to look at some armor. That 
is fully three weeks ago." 

This hint was enough for Cosmo. Von Steinwald was a 
man of influence in the court, well known for his reckless 
habits and fierce passions. The very possibility that the 
mirror should be in his possession was hell itself to Cosmo. 
But violent or hasty measures of any sort were most 
unlikely to succeed. All that he wanted was an opportu- 
nity of breaking the fatal glass; and, to obtain this, he 
must bide his time. He revolved many plans in his mind, 
but without being able to fix upon any. 

At length, one evening, as he was passing the house of 
Von Steinwald, he saw the windows more than usually 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 159 

brilliant. He -watched for a while, and seeing that com- 
pany began to arrive, hastened home, and dressed as richly 
as he could, in the hope of mingling with the guests 
unquestioned ; in effecting which, there could be no diffi- 
culty for a man of his carriage. 

In a lofty, silent chamber, in another part of the city, 
lay a form more like marble than a living woman. The 
loveliness of death seemed frozen upon her face, for her 
lips were rigid, and her eyelids closed. Her long white 
hands were crossed over her breast, and no breathing 
disturbed their repose. Beside the dead, men speak in 
whispers, as if the deepest rest of all could be broken by 
the sound of a living voice. Just so, though the soul was 
evidently beyond the reach of all intimations from the 
senses, the two ladies, who sat beside her, spoke in the 
gentlest tones of subdued sorrow. 

" She has lain so for an hour." 

" This cannot last long, I fear." 

" How much thinner she has grown within the last few 
weeks ! If she would only speak, and explain what she 
suffers, it would be better for her. I think she has 
visions in her trances ; but nothing can induce her to refer 
to them when she is awake." 

" Does she ever speak in these trances ? " 

"I have never heard her; but they say she walks 
sometimes, and once put the whole household in a terrible 



160 ' PHANTASTES : 

fright by disappearing for a whole hour, and returning 
drenched with rain, and almost dead with exhaustion and 
fright. But even then she would give no account of what 
had happened." 

A scarce audible murmur from the yet motionless lips 
of the lady here startled her attendants. After several 
ineffectual attempts at articulation, the word '■'• Cosmo 1^'' 
burst from her. Then she lay still as before ; but only for 
a moment. With a wild cry, she sprang from the couch 
erect on the floor, flung her arms above her head, with 
clasped and straining hands, and, her wide eyes flashing 
with light, called aloud, with a voice exultant as that of a 
spirit bursting from a sepulchre, " I am free ! I am free ! 
I thank thee .' " * Then she flung herself on the couch, and 
sobbed ; then rose, and paced wildly up and down the 
room, with gestures of mingled delight and anxiety ; then 
-turning to her motionless attendants: "Quick, Lisa, my 
cloak and hood!" Then lower: "I must go to him. 
Make haste, Lisa ! You may come with me, if you will." 

In another moment . they were in the street, hurrying 
along towards one of the bridges over the Moldau. The 
moon was near the zenith, and the streets were almost 
empty. The princess soon outstripped her attendant, and 
was half-way over the bridge before the other reached it. 

" Are you free, lady? The mirror is broken ; are you 
free?" 

The words were spoken close beside her, as she hurried 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 161 

on. She turned, and there, leaning on the parapet in a 
recess of the bridge, stood Cosmo, in a splendid dress, but 
with a white and quivering face. 

"Cosmo! — I am free — and thy servant forever, I 
was coming to you now." 

"And I to you, for death made me told; but I could 
get no further. Have I atoned at all ? Do I love you a 
little — truly ? " 

"Ah, I know now that you love me, my Cosmo; but 
what do you say about death ? " 

He did not reply. His hand was pressed against his 
side. She looked more closely ; the blood was welling 
from between the fingers. She flung her arms around him 
with a faint, bitter wail. 

When Lisa came up, she found her mistress kneeling 
above a wan, dead face, which smiled on in the spectral 
moonbeams. 



And now I will say no more about these wondrous vol- 
umes, though I could tell many a tale out of them, and 
could, perhaps, vaguely represent some entrancing thoughts 
of a deeper kind which I found within them. From many 
a sultry noon till twilight, did I sit in that grand hall, 
buried and risen again in these old books. And I trust I 
have carried away in my soul some of the exhalations of 
their undying leaves. In after hours of deserved or need- 
ful sorrow, portions of what I read there have often come 
11 



162 PHANTASTES : 

to me again, with an unexpected comforting, which was 
not fruitless, even though the comfort might seem in itself 
groundless and vain. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 163 



XIY. 

Your gallery 
Hare we passed through, not without much content 
In many singularities ; but we saw not 
That which my daughter came to look upon, — 
The statue of her mother. 

Winter's Tale. 

It seemed to me strange that all this time I had heard 
no music in the fairj palace. I was convinced there must 
be music in it, but that my sense was as yet too gross to 
receive the influence of those mysterious motions that beget 
sound. Sometimes I felt sure, from the way the few fig- 
ures of which I got such transitory glimpses passed me, or 
glided into vacancy before me, that they were moving to 
the law of music ; and, in fact, several times I fancied for 
a moment that I heard a few wondrous tones coming I 
knew not whence. But they did not last long enough to 
convince me that I had heard them with the bodily sense. 
Such as they were, however, they took strange liberties 
with me, causing me to burst suddenly into tears, of which 
there was no presence to make me ashamed, or casting me 
into a kind of trance of speechless delight, which, passing 
as suddenly, left me faint and longing for more. 



164 PHANTASIES : 

Now, on an evening, before I had been a week in the 
palace, I was wandering through one lighted arcade and 
corridor after another. At length I arrived, through a 
door that closed behind me, in another vast hall of the 
palace. It was filled with a subdued crimson light ; by 
which I saw that slender pillars of black, built close to 
walls of white marble, rose to a great height, and then, 
dividing into innumerable divergent arches, supported a roof, 
like the walls, of white marble, upon which the arches inter- 
sected intricately, forming a fretting of black upon the white, 
like the network of a skeleton-leaf. The floor was black. 
Between several pairs of the pillars upon every side the 
place of the wall behind was occupied by a crimson curtain 
of thick silk, hanging in heavy and rich folds. Behind 
each of these curtains burned a powerful light, and these 
were the sources of the glow that filled the hall. A 
peculiar delicious odor pervaded the place. As soon as I 
entered, the old inspiration seemed to return to me, for I 
felt a strong impulse to sing ; or rather, it seemed as if 
some one else was singing a song in my soul, which wanted 
to come forth at my lips, embodied in my breath. But I 
kept silence ; and feeling somewhat overcome by the red 
light and the perfume, as well as by the emotion within me, 
and seeing at one end of the hall a great crimson chair, 
more like a throne than a chair, beside a table of white 
marble, I went to it, and, throwing myself in it, gave my- 
self up to a succession of images of bewildering beauty, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 165 

which passed before my inward eye in a long and occasion- 
ally crowded train. Here I sat for hours, I suppose ; till, 
returning somewhat to myself, I saw that the red light had 
paled away, Und felt a cool, gentle breath gliding over my 
forehead. I rose and left the hall with unsteady steps, 
finding my way with some diflficulty to my own chamber, 
and faintly remembering, as I went, that only in the 
marble cave, before I found the sleeping statue, had I ever 
had a similar experience. 

After this, I repaired every morning to the same hall ; 
where I sometimes sat in the chair, and dreamed deli- 
ciously, and sometimes walked up and down over the black 
floor. Sometimes I acted within myself a whole drama, 
during one of these perambulations ; sometimes walked de- 
liberately through the whole epic of a tale ; sometimes ven- 
tured to sing a song, though with a shrinking fear of I 
knew not what. I was astonished at the beauty of my own 
voice as it rang through the place, or rather crept undulat- 
ing, like a serpent of sound, along the walls and roof of this 
superb music-hall. Entrancing verses arose within me as 
of their own accord, chanting themselves to their own mel- 
odies, and requiring no addition of muS'ic to satisfy the 
inward sense. But, ever in the pauses of these, when the 
singing mood was upon me, I seemed to hear something 
like the distant sound of multitudes of dancers, and felt as 
if it was the unheard music, moving their rhythmic motion, 
that within me blossomed in verse and song. I felt, too, 



166 PHANTASIES: 

that could I but see the dance, I should, from the harmony 
of complicated movements, not of the dancers in relation to 
each other merely, but of each dancer individually in the 
manifested plastic power that moved the consenting har- 
monious form, understand the whole of the music on the 
billows of which they floated and swung. 

At length, one night, suddenly, when this feeling of 
dancing came upon me, I bethought me of lifting one of the 
crimson curtains, and looking if, perchance, behind it there 
might not be hid some other mystery, which might at least 
remove a step further the bewilderment of the present one. 
Nor was I altogether disappointed. I walked to one of 
the magnificent draperies, lifted a corner, and peeped in. 
There, burned a great, crimson, globe-shaped light, high in 
the cubical centre of another hall, which might be larger or 
less than that in which I stood, for its dimensions were not 
easily perceived, seeing that floor and roof and walls were 
entirely of black marble. The roof was supported by the 
same arrangement of pillars radiating in arches, as that of 
the first hall ; only, here, the pillars and arches were of 
dark red. But what absorbed my delighted gaze was an 
innumerable assembly of white marble statues, of every 
form, and in multitudinous posture, filling the hall through- 
out. These stood, in the ruddy glow of the great lamp, 
upon pedestals of jet black. Around the lamp shone in 
golden letters, plainly legible from where I stood, the two 
words : — 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 167 

TOUCH NOT ! 

There was in all this, however, no solution to the 
sound of dancing; and now I was aware that the influ- 
ence on my mind had ceased. I did not go in that even- 
ing, for I was weary and faint, but I hoarded up the 
expectation of entering, as of a great coming joy. 

Next night I walked, as on the preceding, through the 
hall. My mind was filled with pictures and songs, and 
therewith so much absorbed that I did not for some time 
think of looking within the curtain I had last night lifted. 
When the thought of doing so occurred to me first, I 
happened to be within a few yards of it. I became con- 
scious, at the same moment, that the sound of dancing had 
been for some time in my ears. I approached the curtain 
quickly, and, lifting it, entered the black hall. Everything 
was still as death. I should have concluded that the sound 
must have proceeded from some other more distant quarter, 
which conclusion its faintness would, in ordinary circum- 
stances, have necessitated from the first ; but there was a 
something about the statues that caused me still to remain 
in doubt. As I said, each stood perfectly still upon its 
black pedestal ; but there was about every one a certain 
air, not of motion, but as if it had just ceased from move- 
ment ; as if the rest were not altogether of the marbly still- 
ness of thousands of years. It was as if the peculiar at- 
mosphere of each had yet a kind of invisible tremulousness; 
as if its agitated wavelets had not yet subsided into a per- 



168 PHANTASTES : 

feet calm. I had the suspicion that they had anticipated 
mj appearance, and had sprung, each, from the living joy 
of the dance, to the death-silence and blackness of its 
isolated pedestal, just before I entered. I walked across 
the central hall to the curtain opposite the one I had lifted, 
and, entering there, found all the appearances similar, only 
that the statues were different, and differently grouped. 
Neither did they produce on my mind that impression — of 
motion just expired — which I had experienced from the 
others. I found that behind every one of the crimson 
curtains was a similar hall, similarly lighted, and similarly 
occupied. 

The next night I did not allow my thoughts to be ab- 
sorbed as before with inward images, but crept stealthily 
along to the furthest curtain in the hall, from behind which, 
likewise, I had formerly seemed to hear the sound of danc- 
ing. I drew aside its edge as suddenly as I could, and, 
looking in, saw that the utmost stillness pervaded the vast 
place. I walked in, and passed through it to the other 
end. There I found that it communicated with a circular 
corridor, divided from it only by two rows of red columns. 
This corridor, which was black, with red niches holding 
statues, ran entirely about the statue-halls, forming a com- 
munication between the further ends of them all ; further, 
that is, as regards the central hall of white, whence they all 
diverged like radii, finding their circumference in the 
corridor. Round this corridor I now went, entering all the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 169 

halls, of which there were twelve, and finding them all 
similarly constructed, but filled with quite various statues 
of what seemed both ancient and modern sculpture. After 
I had simply walked through them, I found myself suffi- 
ciently tired to long for rest, and went to my own room. 

In the night I dreamed that, walking close by one of the 
curtains, I was suddenly seized with the desire to enter, 
and darted in. This time I was too quick for them. All 
the statues were in motion, statues no longer, but men and 
women ; all shapes of beauty that ever sprang from the 
brain of the sculptor, mingled in the convolutions of a com- 
plicated dance. Passing through them to the further end, 
I almost started from my sleep on beholding, not taking 
part in the dance with the others, nor seemingly endued 
with life like them, but standing in marble coldness and 
rigidity upon a black pedestal in the extreme left corner — 
my lady of the cave ; the marble beauty who sprang from 
her tomb or her cradle at the call of my songs. While I 
gazed in speechless astonishment and admiration, a dark 
shadow, descending from above like the curtain of a stage, 
gradually hid her entirely from my view. I felt with a 
shudder that this shadow was perchance my missing demon, 
whom I had not seen for days. I awoke with a stifled cry. 

Of course, the next evening I began my journey through 
the halls (for I knew not to which my dream had carried 
me), in the hope of proving the dream to be a true one, by 
discovering my marble beauty upon her black pedestal. At 



170 PHANTASTES : 

length, on reaching the tenth hall, I thought I recognized 
some of the forms I had seen dancing in my dream ; and to 
my bewilderment, when I arrived at the extreme corner on 
the left, there stood, the only one I had yet seen, a vacant 
pedestal. It was exactly in the position occupied, in my 
dream, by the pedestal on which the white lady stood. 
Hope beat violently in my heart. 

"Now," said I to myself, "if yet another part of the 
dream would but come true, and I should succeed in sur- 
prising these forms in their nightly dance, it might be the 
rest would follow, and I should see on the pedestal my 
marble queen. Then surely if my songs sufficed to give 
her life before, when she lay in the bonds of alabaster, 
much more would they be sufficient then to give her volition 
and motion, when she alone of assembled crowds of marble 
forms would be standing rigid and cold." 

But the difficulty was, to surprise the dancers. I had 
found that a premeditated attempt at surprise, though exe- 
cuted with the utmost care and rapidity, was of no avail. 
And, in my dream, it was effected by a sudden thought 
suddenly executed. I saw, therefore, that there was no 
plan of operation, offering any probability of success, but 
this : to allow my mind to be occupied with other thoughts, 
as I wandered around the great centre-hall, and so wait 
till the impulse to enter one of the others should happen to 
arise in me just at the moment when I was close to one of 
the crimson curtains. For I hoped that if I entered any 



A FAERIE ROMANCE, 171 

one of the twelve halls at the right moment, that would as 
it were give me the right of entrance to all the others, see- 
ing they all had communication behind. I would not 
diminish the hope of the right chance, bj supposing it nec- 
essary that the desire to enter should awake within me 
precisely when I was close to the curtains of the tenth 
hall. 

At first the impulses to see recurred so continually, in 
spite of the crowded imagery that kept passing through my 
mind, that they formed too nearly a continuous chain for 
the hope that any one of them would succeed as a surprise. 
But as I persisted in banishing them, they recurred less 
and less often ; and after two or three, at considerable in- 
tervals, had come when the spot where I happened to be 
■was unsuitable, the hope strengthened that soon one might 
firise just at the right moment, namely, when, in walking 
round the hall, I should be close to one of the curtains. 

At length the right moment and the impulse coincided. 
I darted into the ninth hall. It was full of the most 
exquisite moving forms. The whole space wavered and 
swam with the involutions of an intricate dance. It seemed 
to break suddenly as I entered, and all made one or two 
bounds towards their pedestals ; but, apparently on finding 
that they were thoroughly overtaken, they returned to their 
employment (for it seemed with them earnest enough to be 
called such) without further heeding me. Somewhat im- 
peded by the floating crowd, I made what haste I could 



172 PHANTASTES : 

towards the bottom of the hall ; whence, entering the cor- 
ridor, I turned towards the tenth. I' soon arrived at the 
corner I wanted to reach, for the corridor was compara- 
tively empty ; but, although the dancers here, after a little 
confusion, altogether disregarded my presence, I was dis- 
mayed at beholding, even yet, a vacant pedestal. But I 
had a conviction that she was near me. And as I looked 
at the pedestal, I thought I saw upon it, vaguely revealed 
as if through overlapping folds of drapery, the indistinct 
outlines of white feet. Yet there was no sign of drapery 
or concealing shadow whatever. But I remembered the 
descending shadow in my dream. And I hoped still in the 
power of my songs ; thinking that what could dispel ala- 
baster might likewise be capable of dispelling what con- 
cealed my beauty now, even if it were the demon whose 
darkness had overshadowed all my life. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 173 



XV. 

Alexander. When will you finish Campaspe ? 
Apelles. Never finish ; for always in absolute beauty there is some- 
what above art. 

Lylt's Campaspe. 

And now, what song should I sing to unveil mj Isis, if 
indeed she was present unseen? I hurried awaj to the 
white hall of Phantasy, heedless of the innumerable forms 
of beauty that crowded my way ; these might cross my 
eyes, but the unseen filled my brain. I wandered long, up 
and down the silent space ; no songs came. My soul was 
not still enough for songs. Only in the silence and dark- 
ness of the soul's night do those stars of the inward firma- 
ment sink to its lower surface from the singing realms 
beyond, and shine upon the conscious spirit. Here all 
efibrt was unavailing. If they came not, they could not 
be found. 

Next night it was just the same. I walked through 
the red glimmer of the silent hall ; but lonely as there I 
walked, as lonely trod my soul up and down the halls of 
the brain. At last I entered one of the statue-halls. The 
dance had just commenced, and I was delighted to find that 
I was free of their assembly. I walked on till I came to 



174 PHANTASIES: 

the sacred corner. There I found the pedestal just as I 
had left it, with the faint glimmer as of white feet still 
resting on the dead black. As soon as I saw it, I seemed 
to feel a presence which longed to become visible, and, as it 
were, called to me to gift it with self- manifestation, that it 
might shine on me. The power of song came to me. But 
the moment my voice, though I sang low and soft, stirred 
the air of the hall, the dancers started ; the quick inter- 
weaving crowd shook, lost its form, divided; each figure 
sprang to its pedestal, and stood, a self-evolving life no 
more, but a rigid, life-like, marble shape, with the whole 
form composed into the expression of a single state or act. 
Silence rolled like a spiritual thunder through the grand 
space. Mj song had ceased, scared at its own influences. 
But I saw, in the hand of one of the statues close by me, a 
harp whose cords yet quivered. I remembered that, as she 
bounded past me, her harp had brushed against my arm ; 
so the spell of the marble had not enfolded it. I sprang to 
her, and with a gesture of entreaty laid my hand on the 
harp. The marble hand, probably from its contact with the 
uncharmed harp, had strength enough to relax its hold, 
and yield the harp to me. No other motion indicated life. 
Instinctively I struck the cords and sang. And not to 
break upon the record of my song, I mention here, that, as 
I sang the first four lines, the loveliest feet became clear 
upon the black pedestal ; and ever as I sang, it was as if a 
veil were being lifted up from before the form, but an invis- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 175 

ible veil, so that the statue appeared to grow before me, not 
so much bj evolution as by infinitesimal degrees of added 
height. And while I sang I did not feel that I stood by 
a statue, as indeed it appeared to be, but that a real woman- 
soul was revealing itself by successive stages of embodiment, 
and consequent manifestation and expression. 

*' Feet of beauty, firmly planting 

Arches white on rosy heel ! 
Whence the life-spring, throbbing, panting, 

Pulses upward to reveal ! 
Fairest things know least despising ; 

Foot and earth meet tenderly ; 
'Tis the woman, resting, rising 

Upward to sublimity. 

" Rise the limbs, sedately sloping, 

Strong and gentle, full and free ; 
Soft and slow, like certain hoping, 

Drawing nigh the broad, firm knee. 
Up to speech ! As up to roses 

Pants the life from leaf to flower, 
So each blending change discloses, 
. Nearer still, expression's power. 

" Lo ! fair sweeps, white surges, twining 

Up and outward fearlessly ! 
Temple columns, close combining, 

Lift a holy mystery. 
Heart of mine ! what strange surprises 

Mount aloft on such a stair ! 
Some great vision upward rises, 

Curving, bending, floating fair. 



176 ^ PHANTASIES : 

"Bands and sweeps, and hill and hollow, 

Lead my fascinated eye ; 
Some apocalypse will follow, 

Some new word of deity. 
Zoned unseen, and outward swelling, 

With new thoughts and wonders rife, 
Queenly majesty foretelling. 

See the expanding house of life ! 

" Sudden heaving, unforbidden 

Sighs eternal, still the same ; 
Mounts of snow have summits hidden 

In the mists of uttered flame. 
But the spirit, dawning nearly, 

Finds no speeflh for earnest pain ; 
Finds a soundless sighing merely, — 

Builds its stairs, and mounts again. 

" Heart, the queen, with secret hoping, 

Sendeth out her waiting pair ; 
Hands, blind hands, half blindly groping. 

Half enclasping visions rare ; 
And the great arms, heartways bending; 

Might of Beauty, drawing home ; 
There returning, and reblending. 

Where from roots of love they roam. 

*' Build thy slopes of radiance beamy, 

Spirit, fair with womanhood ! 
Tower thy precipice, white-gleamy, 

Climb unto the hour of good. 
Dumb space will be rent asunder, 

Now the shining column stands 
Ready to be crowned with wonder 

By the builder's joyous hands. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 177 

* ' All the lines abroad are spreading, 

Like a fountain's failing race. 
Lo, the chin, first feature, treading, 

Airy foot to rest the face ! 
Speech is nigh; oh, see the blushing 

Sweet approach of lip and breath ! 
Round the mouth dim silence, hushing, 

Waits to die ecstatic death. 

" Span across in treble curving, 

Bow of promise, upper lip! 
Set them free, Avith gracious swerving ; 

Let the wing-words float and dip. 
Dumb art thou ? O Love immortal, 

More than words thy speech must be ; 
Childless yet the tender portal 

Of the home of melody. 

"Now the nostrils open fearless, 

Proud in calm unconsciousness. 
Sure it must be something peerless 

That the great Pan would express ! 
Deepens, crowds some meaning tender, 

In the pure, dear lady-face. 
Lo, a blinding burst of splendor ! — 

'Tis the free soul's issuing grace. 

" Two calm lakes of molten glory 

Circling round unfathomed deeps ! 
Lightning-flashes, transitory, 

Cross the gulfs where darkness sleeps. 
This the gate, at last, of gladness, 

To the outward-striving me : 

In the rain of light and sadness, f 

Out its loves and longings flee ! 
12 



178 PHANTASIES : 

" "With a presence I am smitten 

Dumb, with a foreknown surprise ; 
Presence greater yet than written 

Even in the glorious eyes. 
Through the gulfs, with inward gazes, 

I may look till I am lost ; 
Wandering deep in spirit-mazes, 

In a sea without a coast. 

"Windows open to the glorious ! 

Time and space, oh, far beyond ! 
Woman, ah ! thou art victorious, 

And I perish, overfond. 
Springs aloft the yet Unspoken 

In the forehead's endless grace, 
Full of silences unbroken ; 

Infinite, unfeatured face. 

** Domes above, the mount of wonder; 

Height and hollow wrapt in night ; 
Hiding in its caverns under • 

Woman-nations in their might. 
Passing forms, the highest Human 

Faints away to the Divine : 
Features none, of man or woman, 

Can unveil the holiest shine. 

" Sideways, grooved porches only 

Visible to passing eye, 
Stand the silent, doorless, lonely 

Entrance-gates of melody. 
But all sounds fly in as boldly, 

Groan and song, and kiss and cry, 
At their galleries, lifted coldly. 

Darkly, 'twixt the earth and sky. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 179 

' Beauty, thou art spent, thou knowest : 

So, in faint, half-glad despair, 
From the summit thou o'erflowest 

In a fall of torrent hair ; 
Hiding what thou hast created 

In a half-transparent shroud : 
Thus, with glory soft-abated, 

Shines the moon through vapory cloud." 



1^0 PHANTASIES 



XYI. 

Selbst der Styx, der neunfach sie umwindet, 
Wehrt die Riickkehr Ceres Tochter nicht ; 

Nach dem Apfel greift sie, und es bindet 
Ewig sie des Orkus Pflicht. 

Schiller. — Das Ideal und das Leben. 

Ev'n the Styx, which ninefold her infoldeth, 

Hems not Ceres' daughter in its flow ; 
But she grasps the apple — ever holdeth 

Her, sad Orcus, down below. 

Ever as I sang, the veil was uplifted ; ever as I sang, 
the signs of life grew ; till, when the eyes dawned upon me, 
it was with that sunrise of splendor which my feeble song 
attempted to re-embodj. The wonder is that I was not 
altogether overcome, but was able to complete my song as 
the unseen veil continued to rise. This ability came solely 
from the state of mental elevation in which I found myself. 
Only because uplifted in song, was I able to endure the 
blaze of the dawn. But I cannot tell whether she looked 
more of statue or more of woman ; she seemed removed into 
that region of phantasy where all is intensely vivid, but 
nothing clearly defined. At last, as I sang of her descend- 
ing hair, the glow of soul faded away like a dying sunset. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 181 

A lamp within had been extinguished, and the house of life 
shone blank in a winter morn. She was a statue once 
more — but visible, and that was much gained. Yet the 
revulsion from hope and fruition was such, that, unable to 
restrain myself, I sprang to her, and, in defiance of the law 
of the place, flung my arms around her, as if I would tear 
her from the grasp of a visible death, and lifted her from 
the pedestal down to my heart. But no sooner had her 
feet ceased to be in contact with the black .pedestal than 
she shuddered and trembled all over ; then, writhing from 
my arms, before I could tighten their hold, she sprang into 
the corridor, with the reproachful cry, " You should not 
have touched me ! " darted behind one of the exterior 
pillars of the circle, and disappeared, I followed almost as 
fast ; but ere I could reach the pillar the sound of a closing 
door, the saddest of all sounds sometimes, fell on my ear ; 
and arriving at the spot where she had vanished, I saw, 
lighted by a pale, yellow lamp which hung above it, a 
heavy, rough door, altogether unlike any others I had seen 
in the palace ; for they were all of ebony or ivory, or 
covered with silver plates, or of some odorous wood, and very 
ornate, whereas this seemed of old oak, with heavy nails 
and iron studs. Notwithstanding the precipitation of my 
pursuit, I could not help reading in silver letters beneath 
the lamp, " No one enters here without the leave of the 
queen.'" But what was the queen to me, when I followed 
my white lady ? I dashed the door to the wall, and sprang 



182 PHANTASIES : 

through. Lo ! I stood on a waste windj hill. Great 
stones like tombstones stood all about me. No door, no 
palace, was to be seen. A white figure gleamed past me, 
wringing her hands, and crying, "Ah! you should have 
sung to me — you should have sung to me!" and dis- 
appeared behind one of the stones. I followed. A cold 
gust of wind met me from behind the stone ; and when I 
looked I saw nothing but a great hole in the earth, into 
which I could find no way of entering. Had she fallen in ? 
I could not tell. I must wait for the daylight. I sat down 
and wept, for there was no help. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 183 



XYIL 

Anfangs ■woUt' ich fast verzagen, 

Und ich glaubt' ich triig' es nie ; 
Und ich hab' es doch getragen, — 

Aber fragt mich nur nicht : wie ? 

Heine. 

First, I thought, almost despairing, 

This must crush my spirit now ; 
Yet I bore it, and am bearing, — 

Only do not ask me how. 

When the daylight came, it brought the possibility 
of action, but with it little of consolation. With the 
first visible increase of light I gazed into the chasm, but 
could not, for more than an hour, see sufficiently well to 
discover its nature. At last I saw it was almost a perpen- 
dicular opening, like a roughly excavated well, only very 
large. I could perceive no bottom ; and it was not till the 
sun actually rose that I discovered a sort of natural stair- 
case, in many parts little more than suggested, which led 
round and round the gulf, descending spirally into its 
abyss. I saw at once that this was my path ; and without 
a moment's hesitation, glad to quit the sunlight, which 
stared at me most heartlessly, I commenced my tortuous 



184 PHANTASTES : 

descent. It was very difficult. In some parts I had to 
cling to the rocks like a bat. In one place I dropped from 
the track down upon the next returning spire of the stair, 
which, being broad in this particular portion, and standing 
out from the wall at right angles, received me upon my 
feet safe, though somewhat stupefied by the shock. After 
descending a great way I found the stair ended at a narrow 
opening which entered the rock horizontally. Into this I 
crept, and, having entered, had just room to turn round. I 
put my head out into the shaft by which I had come down, 
and surveyed the course of my descent. Looking up, I 
saw the stars ; although the sun must by this time have 
been high in the heavens. Looking below, I saw that the 
sides of the shaft went sheer down, smooth as glass ; and 
far beneath me I saw the reflection of the same stars I had 
seen in the heavens when I looked up. I turned again, and 
crept inwards some distance, when the passage widened, and 
I was at length able to stand and walk upright. Wider 
and loftier grew the way ; new paths branched off on every 
side ; great open halls appeared ; till at last I found my- 
self wandering on through an underground country, in 
which the sky was of rock, and, instead of trees and flowers, 
there were only fantastic rocks and stones. And ever as I 
went, darker grew my thoughts, till at last I had no hope 
whatever of finding the white lady ; I no longer called her 
to myself my white lady. Wherever a choice was neces- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 185 

sary, I always chose the path which seemed to lead down- 
wards. 

At length I began to find that these regions were inhab- 
ited. From behind a rock a peal of harsh, grating laugh- 
ter, full of evil humor, rang, through my ears, and, looking 
round, I saw a queer, goblin creature, with a great head 
and ridiculous features, just such as those described, in 
German histories and travels, as Kobolds, '' What do 
you want with me?" I said. He pointed at me with a 
long forefinger, very thick at the root, and sharpened to a 
point, and answered, " He ! he ! he ! what do you want 
here?" Then, changing his tone, he continued, with 
mock humility : " Honored sir, vouchsafe to withdraw 
from thy slaves the lustre of thy august presence, for thy 
slaves cannot support its brightness." A second appeared, 
and struck in: "You are so big, you keep the sun from 
us. We can't see for you, and we're so cold." Thereupon 
arose, on all sides, the most terrific uproar of laughter, 
from voices like those of children in volume, but scrannel 
and harsh as those of decrepit age, though, unfortunately, 
without its weakness. The whole pandemonium of fairy 
devils, of all varieties of fantastic ugliness, both in form 
and feature, and of all sizes from one to four feet, seemed 
to have suddenly assembled about me. At length, after a 
great babble of talk among themselves, in a language un- 
known to me, and after seemingly endless gesticulation, 
consultation, elbow-nudging, and unmitigated peals of 



186 PHANTASTES: 

laughter, they formed into a circle about one of their num- 
ber, who scrambled upon a stone, and, much to my sur- 
prise, and somewhat to my dismay, began to sing, in a 
voice corresponding in its nature to his talking one, from 
beginning to end, the song with which I had brought the 
light into the eyes of the white lady. He sang the same 
air too, and all the time maintained a face of mock en- 
treaty and worship, accompanying the song with the 
travestied gestures of one playing on the lute. The whole 
assembly kept silence, except at the close of every verse, 
when they roared, and danced, and shouted with laughter, 
and flung themselves on the ground, in real or pretended 
convulsions of delight. When he had finished, the singer 
threw himself from the top of the stone, turning heels over 
head several times in his descent ; and when he did alight it 
was on the top of his head, on which he hopped about, 
making the most grotesque gesticulations with his legs in 
the air. Inexpressible laughter followed, which broke up 
in a shower of tiny stones from innumerable hands. They 
could not materially injure me, although they cut me on 
the head and face. I attempted to run away, but they all 
rushed upon me, and, laying hold of every part that 
afforded a grasp, held me tight. Crowding about me like 
bees, they shouted an insect-swarm of exasperating speeches 
up into my face, among which the most frequently recur- 
ring were : "You shan't have herj you shan't have her; 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 187 

he ! he ! he ! She's for a better man ; she's for a better 
man ; how he'll kiss her ! how he'll kiss her ! " 

The galvanic torrent of this battery of malevolence stung 
to life within me a spark of nobleness, and I said aloud, 
" Well, if he is a better man, let him have her." 

They instantly let go their hold of me, and fell back a 
step or two, with a whole broadside of grunts and humphs, 
as of unexpected and disappointed approbation. I made a 
step or two forward, and a lane was instantly opened for 
me through the midst of the grinning little antics, who 
bowed most politely to me on every side as I passed. 
After I had gone a few yards I looked back, and saw them 
all standing quite still, looking after me, like a great school 
of boys, till suddenly one turned round, and with a loud 
whoop rushed into the midst of the others. In an instant 
the whole was one writhing and tumbling heap of contor- 
tion, reminding me of the live pyramids of intertwined 
snakes of which travellers make report. As soon as one 
was worked out of the mass, he bounded off a few paces, 
and then, with a somerset and a run, threw himself gyrat- 
ing into the air, and descended with all his weight on the 
summit of the heaving and struggling chaos of fantastic 
figures. I left them still busy at this fierce and apparently 
aimless amusement. And as I went, I sang : — 

" If a nobler waits for thee, 
I will weep aside : 
It is well that thou should'st be, 
Of the nobler, bride. 



188 PHANTASTES : 

" For if love builds up the home, 
Where the heart is free, 
Homeless yet the heart must roam, 
That has not found thee. 

" One must suffer : I, for her, 
Yield in her my part. 
Take her, thou art worthier ; 
Still ! be still, my heart ! 

" Gift ungotten ! largess high 
Of a frustrate will ! 
But to yield it lovingly 
Is a something still." 

Then a little song arose of itself in my soul ; and I felt 
for the moment, while it sang sadlj within me, as if I was 
once more walking up and down the white hall of Phantasy 
in the Fairy Palace. But this lasted no longer than the 
song, as will be seen. 

" Do not vex thy violet 
Perfume to afford ; 
Else no odor thou wilt get 
From its little hoard. 

" In thy lady's gracious eyes 
Look not thou too long ; 
Else from them the glory flies. 
And thou dost her wrong. 

" Come not thou too near the maid. 
Clasp her not too wild ; 
Else the splendor is allayed, 
And thy heart beguiled." 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 189 

A crash of laughter, more discordant and deriding than 
any I had yet heard, invaded my ears. Looking on in the 
direction of the sound, I saw a little, elderly woman, much 
taller, however, than the goblins I had just left, seated 
upon a stone by the side of the path. She rose, as I drew 
near, and came forward to meet me. She was very plain and 
commonplace in appearance, without being hideously ugly. 
Looking up in my face with a stupid sneer, she said, 
" Isn't it a pity you haven't a pretty girl to walk all alone 
with you through this sweet country? How different 
everything would look ! wouldn't it ? Strange that one 
can never have what one would like best ! How the roses 
would bloom and all that, even in this infernal hole ! 
wouldn't they, Anodos? Her eyes would light up the old 
cave, wouldn't they?" 

" That depends on who the pretty girl should be," re- 
plied I. 

" Not so very much matter that," she answered; "look 
here ! " 

I had turned to go away as I gave my reply, but now I 
stopped and looked at her. As a rough, unsightly bud 
might suddenly blossom into the most lovely flower; or 
rather, as a sunbeam bursts through a shapeless cloud, and 
transfigures the earth ; so burst a face of resplendent 
beauty, as it were through the unsightly visage of the 
, woman, destroying it with light as it dawned through it. 
! A summer sky arose above me, gray with heat ; across a 



190 PHANTASTES : 

shining, slumbrous landscape looked from afar the peaks 
of snow-capped mountains; and down from a great rock 
beside me fell a sheet of water mad with its own delight. 

" Stay with me," she said, lifting up her exquisite face, 
and looking full in mine. 

I drew back. Again the infernal laugh grated upon my 
ears ; again the rocks closed in around me, and the ugly 
woman looked at me with wicked, mocking hazel eyes. 

"You shall have your reward," said she. "You shall 
see your white lady again." 

"That lies not with you," I replied, and turned and 
left her. 

She followed me with shriek upon shriek of laughter, as 
I went on my way. 

I may mention here, that, although there was always 
light enough to see my path and a few yards on every side 
of me, I never could find out the source of this sad sepul- 
chral illumination. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 191 



XVIII. 

Im Sausen des Windes, im Brausen des Meers, 

Und im Seufzen der eigenen Brust. 

Heine. 

In the wind's uproar, the sea's raging grim, 
And the sighs that are born in him. 



Ja, est wird zwar ein anderes Zeitalter kommen, wo es Licht wird, 
und wo der Mensch aus erhabnen Traiimen erwacht, und die Traiime 
— wieder findet, weil er nichts verlor als den Schlaf." 

Jean Paul. — Hesperus. 

Prom dreams of bliss shall men awake 

One day, but not to weep : 
The dreams remain ; they only break 

The mirror of the sleep. 

How I got through this dreary part of my travels, I do 
not know. I do not think I was upheld by the hope that 
any moment the light might break in upon me; for I 
scarcely thought about that. I went on with a dull endur- 
ance, varied by moments of uncontrollable sadness; for 
more and more the conviction grew upon me that I should 
never see the white lady again. It may seem strange that 
one with whom I had held so little communion should have 
so engrossed my thoughts ; but benefits conferred awaken 
love in some minds, as surely as benefits received in others. 



192 PHANTASIES : 

Besides being delighted and proud that my songs had called 
the beautiful creature to life, the same fact caused me to 
feel a tenderness unspeakable for her, accompanied with a 
kind of feeling of property in her ; for so the goblin Selfish- 
ness would reward the angel Love. When to all this is 
added an overpowering sense of her beauty, and an un- 
questioning conviction that this was a true index to inward 
loveliness, it may be understood how it came to pass that 
my imagination filled my whole soul with the play of its 
own multitudinous colors and harmonies around the form 
which yet stood, a gracious marble radiance, in the midst 
of its white hall of phantasy. The time passed by un- 
heeded ; for my thoughts were busy. Perhaps this was 
also in part the cause of my needing no food, and never 
thinking how I should find any, during this subterraneous 
part of my travels. How long they endured I could not 
tell, for I had no means of measuring time ; and when I 
looked back there was such a discrepancy between the 
decisions of my imagination and my judgment, as to the 
length of time that had passed, that I was bewildered, and 
gave up all attempts to arrive at any conclusion on the 
point. 

A gray mist continually gathered behind me. When I 
looked back towards the past, this mist was the medium 
through which my eyes had to strain for a vision of what 
had gone by ; and the form of the white lady had receded 
into an unknown region. At length the country of rock 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 193 

began to close again around me, gradually and slowly 
narrowing, till I found myself walking in a gallery of rock 
once more, both sides of which I could touch with my out- 
stretched hands. It narrowed yet, until I was forced to 
move carefully, in order to avoid striking against the pro- 
jecting pieces of rock. The roof sank lower and lower, 
until I was compelled, first to stoop, and then to creep on 
my hands and knees. It recalled terrible dreams of child- 
hood ; but I was not much afraid, because I felt sure that 
this was my path, and my only hope of leaving Fairy-land, 
of which I was now almost weary. 

At length, on getting past an abrupt turn in the passage, 
through which I had to force myself, I saw, a few yards 
ahead of me, the long-forgotten daylight shining through 
a small opening, to which the path, if path it could now be 
called, led me. With gre;it difiiculty I accomplished these 
last few yards and came forth to the day. I stood on the 
shore of a wintry sea, with a wintry sun just a few feet 
above its horizon-edge. It was bare, and waste, and gray. 
Hundreds of hopeless waves rushed constantly shorewards, 
falling exhausted upon a beach of great loose stones, that 
seemed to stretch miles and miles in both directions. There 
was nothing for the eye but mingling shades of gray ; noth- 
ing for the ear but the rush of the coming, the roar of the 
breaking, and the moan of the retreating wave. No rock 
lifted up a sheltering severity above the dreariness around ; 

even that from which I had myself emerged rose scarcely 
13 



194 PHANTASTES : 

a foot above the opening by -which I had reached the dismal 
day, more dismal even than the tomb I had left. A cold, 
death-like wind swept across the shore, seeming to issue 
from a pale mouth of cloud upon the horizon. Sign of life 
was nowhere visible. I wandered over the stones, up and 
down the beach, a human embodiment of the nature around 
me. The wind increased ; its keen waves flowed through 
my soul ; the foam rushed higher up the stones ; a few dead 
stars began to gleam in the east ; the sound of the waves 
grew louder and yet more despairing. A dark curtain of 
cloud was lifted up, and a pale-blue rent shone between its 
foot and the edge of the sea, out from which rushed an icy 
storm of frozen wind, that tore the waters into spray as it 
passed, and flung the billows in raving heaps upon the 
desolate shore. I could bear it no longer. 

" I will not be tortured to death," I cried ; " I will meet 
it half-Avay. The life within me is yet enough to bear me 
up to the face of Death, and then I die unconquered." 

Before it had grown so dark I had observed, though 
without any particular interest, that on one part of the 
shore a low platform of rock seemed to run out far into the 
midst of the breaking waters. Towards this I now went, 
scrambling over smooth stones, to which scarce even a 
particle of sea-weed clung ; and, having found it, I got on 
it, and followed its direction, as near as I could guess, out 
into the tumbling chaos. I could hardly keep my feet 
against the wind and sea. The waves repeatedly all but 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 195 

swept me oflf my path ; but I kept on my way till I reached 
the end of the low promontory, which in the fall of the 
waves rose a good many feet above the surface, and in their 
rise was covered with their waters. I stood one moment, 
and gazed into the heaving abyss beneath me ; then plunged 
headlong into the mounting wave below. A blessing, like 
the kiss of a mother, seemed to alight on my soul ; a calm, 
deeper than that which accompanies a hope deferred, bathed 
my spirit. I sank far in the waters, and sought not to 
return. I felt as if once more the great arms of the beech- 
tree were around me, soothing me after the miseries I had 
passed through, and telling me, like a little sick child, that 
I should be better to-morrow. The waters of themselves 
lifted me, as with loving arms, to the surface. I breathed 
again, but did not unclose my eyes. I would not look on 
the wintry sea and the pitiless gray sky. Thus I floated 
till something gently touched me. It was a little boat 
floating beside me. How it came there I could not tell ; 
but it rose and sank on the waters, and kept touching me 
in its fall, as if with a human will to let me know that help 
was J)y me. It was a little gay-colored boat, seemingly 
covered with glistering scales like those of a fish, all of 
brilliant rainbow hues. I scrambled into it, and lay down 
in the bottom, with a sense of exquisite repose. Then I 
drew over me a rich, heavy purple cloth that was beside 
me ; and, lying still, knew, by the sound of the waters, that 
my little bark was fleeting rapidly onwards. Finding, 



196 PHANTASIES : 

however, none of that stormy motion which the sea had 
manifested when I beheld it from the shore, I opened my 
eyes, and, looking first up, saw above me the deep violet 
sky of a warm southern night, and then lifting my head, 
saw that I was sailing fast upon a summer sea, in the last 
border of a southern twilight. The aureole of the sun yet 
shot the extreme faint tips of its longest rays above the 
horizon-waves and withdrew them not. It was a perpetual 
twilight. The stars, great and earnest, like children's eyes, 
bent down lovingly towards the waters ; and the reflected 
stars within seemed to float up, as if longing to meet their 
embraces. But when I looked down, a new wonder met my 
view; for, vaguely revealed beneath the wave, I floated 
above my whole Past. The fields of my childhood flitted 
by ; the halls of my youthful labors ; the streets of great 
cities where I had dwelt ; and the assemblies of men and 
women wherein I had wearied myself seeking for rest. 
But so indistinct were the visions, that sometimes I thought 
that I was sailing on a shallow sea, and that strange rocks 
and forests of sea-plants beguiled my eye, sufficiently to be 
transformed by the magic of the phantasy into well-known 
objects and regions. Yet at times a beloved form seemed 
to lie close beneath me in sleep, and the eyelids would 
tremble as if about to forsake the conscious eye, and the 
arms would heave upwards as if in dreams they sought for 
a satisfying presence. But these motions might come only 
from the heaving of the waters between those forms and me. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 197 

Soon I fell asleep, overcome with fatigue and delight. In 
dreams of unspeakable joy, — of restored friendships ; of 
revived embraces ; of love which said it had never died ; of 
faces that had vanished long ago, yet said with smiling lips 
that they knew nothing of the grave ; of pardons implored, 
and granted with such bursting floods of love, that I was 
almost glad I had sinned, — thus I passed through this 
wondrous twilight. I awoke with the feeling that I had 
been kissed and loved to my heart's content; and found that 
my boat was floating motionless by the grassy shore of a 
little island. 



198 PHANTASIES : 



XIX. 

In stiller Eulie, in wechselloser Einfalt fiihr ich ununterbrochen 
das Bewusstseyn der ganzen Menschheit in mir. 

ScHLEiERMACHEE. — Monologeu. 

In still rest, in changeless simplicity, I bear, uninterrupted, the con- 
sciousness of the whole of Humanity within me. 



such a sweetness, such a grace 

In all thy speech appear, 
That what to th' eye a beauteous face, 

That thy tongue is to the ear. 



Cowley. 



The -water was deep to the very edge, and I sprang 
from the little boat upon a soft, grassy turf. The island 
seemed rich with a profusion of all grasses and low flowers. 
All delicate, lowly things were most plentiful ; but no trees 
rose skywards ; not even a bush overtopped the tall grasses, 
except in one place near the cottage I am about to describe, 
where a few plants of the gum-cistus, which drops every 
night all the blossoms that the day brings forth, formed a 
kind of natural arbor. The whole island lay open to the 
sky and sea. It rose nowhere more than a few feet above 
the level of the waters, which flowed deep all around its 
border. Here there seemed to be neither tide nor storm. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 199 

A sense of persistent calm and fulness arose in the mind at 
the sight of the slow, pulse-like rise and fall of the deep, 
clear, unrippled waters against the bank of the island, for 
shore it could hardly be called, being so much more like 
the edge of a full, solemn river. As I walked over the 
grass towards the cottage, which stood at a little distance 
from the bank, all the flowers of childhood looked at me 
with perfect child-eyes out of the grass. My heart, soft- 
ened by the dreams through which it had passed, over- 
flowed in a sad, tender love towards them. They looked to 
me like children impregnably fortified in a helpless confi- 
dence. The sun stood half way down the western sky, 
shining very soft and golden ; and there grew a second 
world of shadows amidst the world of grasses and wild 
flowers. 

The cottage was square, with low walls, and a high py- 
ramidal roof thatched with long reeds, of which the withered 
blossoms hung over all the eaves. It is noticeable that 
most of the buildings I saw in Fairy-land were cottages. 
There was no path to a door, nor, indeed, was there any 
track worn by footsteps in the island. The cottage rose 
right out of the smooth turf It had no windows that I 
could see ; but there was a door in the centre of the side 
facing me, up to which I went. I knocked, and the sweet- 
est voice I had ever heard said, " Come in."' I entered. 
A bright fire was burning on a hearth in the centre of the 
earthen floor, and the smoke found its way out at an open- 



200 PHANTASTES : 

ing in the centre of the pyramidal roof. Over the fire hung 
a little pot, and over the pot bent a woman-face, the most 
wonderful, I thought, that I had ever beheld. For it was 
older than any countenance I had ever looked upon. 
There was not a spot in which a wrinkle could lie, where a 
wrinkle lay not. And the skin was ancient and brown, 
like old parchment. The woman's form was tall and 
spare, and when she stood up to welcome me, I saw that 
she was straight as an arrow. Could that voice of sweet- 
ness have issued from those lips of age ? Mild as they 
were, could they be the portals whence flowed such mel- 
ody ? But the moment I saw her eyes, I no longer won- 
dered at her voice ; they were absolutely young, — those of 
a woman of five-and-twenty, large, and of a clear gray. 
Wrinkles had beset them all about ; the eyelids themselves 
were old, and heavy, and worn; but the eyes were very 
incarnations of soft light. She held out her hand to me, 
and the voice of sweetness again greeted me, with the sin- 
gle word," Welcome ! " She set an old wooden chair for 
me, near the fire, and went on with her cooking. A won- 
drous sense of refuge and repose came upon me. I felt 
like a boy who has got home from school, miles across the 
liills, through a heavy storm of wind and snow. Almost, 
as I gazed on her, I sprang from my seat to kiss those old 
lips. And when, having finished her cooking, she brought 
some of the dish she had prepared, and set it on a little 
table by me, covered with snow-white cloth, I could not 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 201 

help laying my head on her bosom, and bursting into 
happy tears. She put her arms round me, saying, " Poor 
child ! poor child ! ' ' 

As I continued to weep, she gently disengaged herself; 
and, taking a spoon, put some of the food (I did not know 
what it was) to my lips, entreating me most endearingly to 
swallow it. To please her, I made an effort, and succeeded. 
She went on feeding me like a baby, with one arm around 
me, till I looked up in her face and smiled ; then she gave 
me the spoon, and told me to eat, for it would do me good. 
I obeyed her, and found myself wonderfully refreshed. 
Then she drew near the fire an old-fashioned couch that was 
in the cottage, and, making me lie down upon it, sat at my 
feet, and began to sing. Amazing store of old ballads 
rippled from her lips, over the pebbles of ancient tunes ; 
and the voice that sang was sweet as the voice of a tuneful 
maiden that singeth ever from very fulness of song. The 
songs were almost all sad, but with a sound of comfort. 
One I can faintly recall. It was something like this : — 

" Sir Aglovaile through the church-yard rode ; 
Sing, All alone I lie : 
Little recked he where'er he yode. 
All alone, up in the sky. 

" Swerved his courser, and plunged with fear; 
, All alo7ie I lie : 

His cry might have" wakened the dead men near, 

All alone, up in the sky. 



202 PHANTASTES : 

" The very dead that lay at his feet, 
Lapt in the mouldy winding-sheet. 

" But he curbed him and spurred him, until he stood 
Still in his place, like a horse of wood, 

" "With nostrils uplift, and eyes wide and wan; 
But the sweat in streams from his fetlocks ran. 

" A ghost grew out of the shadowy air. 
And sat in the midst of her moony hair. 

" In her gleamy hair she sat and wept; 
In the dreamful moon they lay and slept; 

" The shadows above, and the bodies below, 
Lay and slept in the moonbeams slow. 

" And she sang like the moan of an autumn wind 
Over the stubble left behind : — 

" ' Alas, how easily things go wrong ! 
A sigh too much, or a kiss too long, 
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain, 
And life is never the same again. 

" ' Alas, how hardly things go right ! 
'Tis hard to watch in a summer night, 
For the sigh will come, and the kiss will stay, 
~- And the summer night is a winter day.' 

" ' O lovely ghost, my heart is woe. 
To see thee weeping and wailing so. 

" ' O lovely ghost,' said the fearless knight, 
' Can the sword of a warrior set it right ? 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 203 

" ' Or prayer of bedesman, praying mild, 
As a cup of water a feverish child, 

*' ' Soothe thee at last, in dreamless mood, 
To sleep the sleep a dead lady should? 

" * Thine eyes they fill me with longing sore. 
As if I had known thee for evermore. 

" ' O lovely ghost, I could leave the day, 
To sit with thee in the moon away, 

" ' If thou wouldst trust me, and lay thy head 
To rest on a bosom that is not dead.' 

' ' The lady sprang up with a strange ghost cry. 
And she flung her white ghost-arms on high ; 

" And she laughed a laugh that was not gay. 
And it lengthened out till it died away ; 

" And the dead beneath turned and moaned, 
And the yew-trees above they shuddered and groaned. 

" * Will he love me twice with a love that is vain? 
Will he kill the poor ghost yet again ? 

" * I thought thou wert good; but I said, and wept: 
" Can I have dreamed who have not slept?" 

" ' And I knew, alas ! or ever I would. 
Whether I dreamed, or thou wert good. 

" ' When my baby died, my brain grew wild. 
I awoke, and found I was with my child.' 



204 PHANTASIES : 

" ' If thou art the ghost of my Adelaide, 
How is it? Thou wert'but a village maid, 

" ' And thou seemest an angel lady white, 
Though thin, and wan, and past delight.' 

" The lady smiled a flickering smile, 
And she pressed her temples hard the while : 

" ' Thou seest that Death for a woman can 
Do more than knighthood for a man.' 

" ' But show me the child thou callest mine. 
Is she out to-night in the ghost's sunshine ? * 

" ' In St. Peter's Church she is playing on, 
At hide-and-seek, with Apostle John. 

" ' When the moonbeams right through the window go, 
Where the twelve are standing in glorious show, 

" ' She says the rest of them do not stir, 
But one comes down to play with her. 

" ' Then I can go where I list, and weep. 
For good St. John my child will keep.' 

" ' Thy beauty filleth the very air. 
Never saw I a woman so fair.' 

" ' Come, if thou darest, and sit by my side; 
But do not touch me, or woe will betide. 

" ' Alas ! I am weak : I well might know 
This gladness betokens some further woe. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 205 

" ' Yet come. It will come. I will bear it. I can. 
For thou lovest me yet— though but as a man.' 

•' The knight dismounted in earnest speed ; 
Away through the tombstones thundered the steed, 

" And fell by the outer wall, and died. 
But the knight he kneeled by the lady's side ; 

" Kneeled beside her in wondrous bliss, 
Eapt in an everlasting kiss : 

" Though never Ms lips come the lady nigh. 
And his eyes alone on her beauty lie. 

" All the night long, till the cock crew loud, 
He kneeled by the lady, lapt in her shroud. 

" Arid what they said, I may not say : 
Dead night was sweeter than living day. 

" How she made him so blissful glad 
Who made her and found her so ghostly sad, 

" I may not tell ; but it needs no touch 
To make them blessed who love so much. 

" ' Come every night, my ghost, to me ; 
And one night I will come to thee. 

" ' 'Tis good to have a ghostly wife : 
She will not tremble at clang of strife ; 

" * She will only hearken, amid the din, 
Behind the door, if he cometh in.' 



206 PHANTASTES : 

" And this is how Sir Aglovaile 
Often walked in the moonlight pale. 

" And oft when the crescent but thinned the gloom, 
• rull-orb6d moonlight filled his room ; 

" And through beneath his chamber door, 
Fell a ghostly gleam on the outer floor ; 

" And they that passed, in fear averred 
That murmured words they often heard. 

" 'Twas then that the eastern crescent shone 
' Through the chancel window, and good St. John 

" Played with the ghost-child all the night, 
And the mother was free till the morning light, 

" And sped through the dawning night, to stay 
With Aglovaile till the break of day. 

" And their love was a rapture, lone and high. 
And dumb as the moon in the topmost sky. 

" One night Sir Aglovaile, weary, slept, 
And dreamed a dream wherein he wept. 

"A warrior he was, not often wept he, 
But this night he wept full bitterly. 

" He woke — beside him the ghost-girl shone 
Out of the dark : 'twas the eve of St. John. 

" He had dreamed a dream of a still, dark wood. 
Where the maiden of old beside him stood ; 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 207 

" But a mist came down, and caught her away, 
And he sought her in vain through the pathless day, 

" Till he wept with the grief that can do no more, 
And thought he had dreamt the dream before. 

" From bursting heart the weeping flowed on; 
And lo ! beside him the ghost-girl shone ; 

" Shone like the light on a harbor's breast. 
Over the sea of his dream's unrest ; 

" Shone like the wondrous, nameless boon. 
That the heart seeks ever, night or noon : 

" "Warnings forgotten, when needed most. 
He clasped to his bosom the radiant ghost. 

" She wailed aloud, and faded, and sank. 
With upturned white face, cold and blank, 

*' In his arms lay the corpse of the maiden pale, 
And she came no more to Sir Aglovaile. 

" Only a voice, when winds were wild. 
Sobbed and wailed like a chidden child : — 

" ' Alas, how easily things go wrong ! 
A sigh too much, or a hiss too long. 
And there follows a mist and a weeping rain, 
And life is never the same again' " 

This was one of the simplest of her songs, which, per- 
haps, is the cause of my being able to remember it better ^ 
than most of the others. 



208 PHANTASTES : 

While she sung, I was in Elysium, with the sense of a 
rich soul upholding, embracing, and overhanging mine, full 
of all plenty and bounty. I felt as if she could give me 
everything I wanted ; as if I should never wish to leave 
her. but would be content to be sung to and fed by her, day 
after day, as years rolled by. At last I fell asleep while 
she sang. 

When I ^woke, I knew not whether it was night or day. 
The fire had sunk to a few red embers, which just gave 
light enough to show me the woman standing a few feet 
from me, with her back towards^ me, facing the door by 
which I had entered. She was weeping, but very gently 
and plentifully. The tears seemed to come freely from her 
heart. Thus she stood for a few minutes ; then, slowly 
turning at right angles to her former position, she faced 
another of the four sides of the cottage. I* now observed, 
for the first time, that here was a door likewise ; and that, 
indeed, there was one in the centre of every side of the 
cottage. When she looked towards this second door, her 
tears ceased to flow, but sighs took their place. She often 
closed her eyes as she stood; and every time she closed 
her eyes a gentle sigh seemed to be born in her heart and 
to escape at her lips. But when her eyes were open, her 
sighs were deep and very sad, and shook her whole frame. 
Then she turned towards the third door, and a cry as of 
fear or suppressed pain broke from her ; but she seemed to 
hearten herself against the dismay, and to front it steadily ; 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 209 

for, although I often heard a slight cry and sometimes a 
moan, yet she never moved or bent her head, and I felt 
sure that her eyes never closed. Then she turned to the 
fourth door, and I saw her shudder, and then stand still as 
a statue, till at last she turned towards me and approached 
the fire. I saw that her face was white as death. But she 
gave one look upwards, and smiled the sweetest, most 
child-innocent smile; then heaped fresh wood on the fire, 
and, sitting down by the blaze, drew her wheel near her, 
and began to spin. While she spun, she murmured a low, 
strange song, to which the hum of the wheel made a kind 
of infinite symphony. At length she paused in her spin- 
ning and singing, and glanced towards me, like a mother 
who looks whether or not her child gives signs of waking. 
She smiled when she saw that my eyes were open. I 
asked her whether it was day yet. She answered, "It is 
always day here, so long as I keep my fire burning." 

I felt wonderfully refreshed ; and a great desire to see 
more of the island awoke within me. I rose, and, saying 
that I wished to look about me, went towards the door by 
which I had entered. 

"Stay a moment," said my hostess, with some trepi- 
dation in her voice. " Listen to me. You will not see 
what you expect when you go out of that door. Only 
remember this : whenever you wish to come back to me, 
enter wherever you see this mark." 

She held up her left hand between me and the fire. 
U 



210 PHANTASIES : 

Upon the palm, which appeared almost transparent, I saw, 

in dark red, a mark like this V. , which I took care 

to fix in mj mind, ^""^ 

She then kissed me, and bade me good-by with a so- 
lemnity that awed me, and bewildered me too, seeing I was 
only going out for a little ramble in an island which I did 
not believe larger than could easily be compassed in a few 
hours' walk at most. As I went she resumed her spinning. 

I opened the door, and stepped out. The moment my 
foot touched the smooth sward I seemed to 'issue from 
the door of an old barn on my father's estate, where, in 
the hot afternoons, I used to go and lie amongst the straw, 
and read. It seemed to me now that I had been asleep 
there. At a little distance in the field I saw two of my 
brothers at play. The moment they caught sight of me 
they called out to me to come and join them, which I did ; 
and we played together as we had done years ago, till the 
red sun went down in the west, and the gray fog began to 
rise from the river. Then we went home together with a 
strange happiness. As we went, we heard the continually 
renewed larum of a landrail in the long grass. One of my 
brothers and I separated to a little distance, and each com- 
menced running towards the part whence the sound 
appeared to come, in the hope of approaching > the spot 
where the bird was, and so getting at least a sight of it, 
if we should not be aible to capture the little creature. My 
father's voice recalled us from trampling down the rich. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 213 

<» 

long grass, soon to be cut down and laid aside for winter. 
I had quite forgotten all about Fairy-land, and the wonder- 
ful old woman, and the curious red mark. 

My favorite brother and I shared the same bed. Some 
childish dispute arose between us, and our last words, ere 
we fell asleep, were not of kindness, notwithstanding the 
pleasures of the day. When I woke in the morning I 
missed him. He had risen early, and had gone ^o bathe in 
the river. In another hour he was brought home drowned. 
Alas ! alas ! if we had only gone to sleep as usual, the one 
with his arm about the other ! Amidst the horror of the 
moment a strange conviction flashed across my mind, that 
I had gone through the very same once before. 

I rushed out of the house, I knew not why, sobbing and 
crying bitterly. I ran through the fields in aimless dis- 
tress, till, passing the old barn, I caught sight of a red 
mark on the door. The merest trifles sometimes rivet the 
attention in the deepest misery ; the intellect has so little 
to do with grief I went up to look at this mark, which I 
did not remember ever to have seen before. As I looked 
at it, I thought I would go in and lie down amongst the 
straw, for I was very weary with running about and weep- 
ing. I opened the door, and there in the cottage sat the 
old woman as I had left her, at her spinning-wheel. 

"I did not expect you quite so soon," she said, as I 
shut the door behind me. I went up to the couch, and 



PHANTASTES: 
« 

threw myself on it with that fatigue wherewith one awakes 
from a feverish dream of hopeless grief. 
The old woman sang : — 

" The great sun, benighted, 
May faint from the sky ; 
But love, once uplighted, 
Will never more die. 

" Form, with its brightness, 
Prom eyes will depart : 
It walketh, in whiteness, 
The halls of the heart." 

Ere she had ceased singing, my courage had returned. 
I started from the couch, and, without taking leave of the 
old woman, opened the door of Sighs, and sprang into what 
should appear. 

I stood in a lordly hall, where, by a blazing fire on the 
hearth, sat a lady, waiting, I knew, for some one long 
desired. A mirror was near me ; but I saw that my form 
had no place within its depths, so I feaTed not that I should 
be seen. The lady wonderfully resembled my marble lady, 
but was altogether of the daughters of men, and I could not 
tell whether or not it was she. It was not for me she 
waited. The tramp of a great horse rang through the court 
without. It ceased, and the clang of armor told that his 
rider alighted, and the sound of 'his ringing heels approached 
the hall. The door opened ; but the lady waited, for she 
would meet her lord alone. He strode in ; she flew like a 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 213 

home-bound dove into his arms, and nestled on the hard 
steel. It was the knight of the soiled armor. But now 
the armor shone like polished glass, and, strange to tell, 
though the mirror reflected not mj form, I saw a dim shadow 
of myself in the shining steel. 

" my beloved, thou art come, and I am blessed! " 
Her soft fingers speedily overcame the hard clasp of his 
helmet ; one by one she undid the buckles of his armor ; 
and she toiled under the weight of the mail, as she ivould 
carry it aside. Then she unclasped his greaves, and' un- 
buckled his spurs ; and once more she sprang into his arms, 
and laid her head where she could now feel the beating of 
his heart. Then she disengaged herself from his embrace, 
and, moving back a step or two, gazed at him. He stood 
there a mighty form, crowned with a noble head, where all 
sadness had disappeared, or had been absorbed in solemn 
purpose. Yet I suppose that he looked more thoughtful 
than the lady had expected to see him, for she did not renew 
her caresses, although his face glowed with love, and the few 
words he spoke were as mighty deeds for strength ; but she 
led him towards the hearth, and seated him in an ancient 
chair, and set wine before him, and sat at his feet. 

" I am sad," he said, when I think of the youth whom I 
met twice in the forests of Fairy-land, and who, you say, 
twice, with his songs, roused you from the death-sleep of 
an evil enchantment. There was something noble in him, 



214 PHANTASIES : 

but it was a nobleness of thought, and not of deed. He 
may yet perish of vile fear." 

"Ah!" returned the lady, "you saved him once, and 
for that I thank you ; for may I not say that I somewhat 
loved him ? But tell me how you fared, when you struck 
your battle-axe into the ash-tree, and he came and found 
you ; for so much of the story you had told me, when the 
beggar-child came and took you away." 

" As soon as I saw him," rejoined the knight, "I knew 
that earthly arms availed not against such as he, and that 
my soul must meet him in its naked strength. So I un- 
clasped my helm, and flung it on the ground, and, holding 
my good axe yet in my hand, gazed at him with steady eyes. 
On he came, a horror indeed ; but I did not flinch. En- 
durance must conquer, where force could not reach. He came 
nearer and nearer, till the ghastly face was close to mine. 
A shudder as of death ran through me ; but I think I did 
not move, for he seemed to quail, and retrfeated. As soon 
as he gave back, I struck one more sturdy blow on the stem 
of his tree, that the forest rang; and then looked at him 
again. He writhed and grinned with rage and apparent 
pain, and again approached me, but retreated sooner than 
before. I heeded him no more, but hewed with a will at 
the tree, till the trunk creaked, and the head bowed, and 
with a crash it fell to the earth. Then I looked up from 
my labor, and, lo ! the spectre had vanished, and I saw him 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 2l5 

no more ; nor ever in my wanderings have I heard of him 
again." 

" Well struck ! well withstood ! my hero," said the 
lady. 

" But," said the knight, somewhat troubled, "dost thou 
love the youth still ? " 

"Ah!" she replied, "how can I help it? He woke 
me from worse than death ; he loved me. I had never been 
for thee, if he had not sought me first. But I love him 
not as I love thee. He was but the moon of my night ; 
thou art the sun of my day, beloved ! " 

"Thou art right," returned the noble man. " It were 
hard, indeed, not to have some love in return for such a 
gift as he hath given thee. I, too, owe him more than 
words can speak." 

Humbled before them, with an aching and desolate 
heart, I yet could not restrain my words : — 

" Let me, then, be the moon of thy night still, woman ! 
And when thy day is beclouded, as the fairest days will be, 
let some song of mine comfort thee, as an old, withered, 
half-forgotten thing, that belongs to an ancient mournful 
hour of uncompleted birth, which yet was beautiful in its 
timoi" 

They sat silent, and I almost thought they were listen- 
ing. The color of the lady's eyes grew deeper and deeper ; 
the slow tears grew, and filled them, and overflowed. 
They rose, and passed, hand in hand, close to where I 



216 PHANTASTES : 

Stood, and each looked towards me in passing. Then 
they disappeared through a door, which closed behind them ; 
but, ere it closed, I saw that the room into which it opened 
was a rich chamber, hung with gorgeous arras. I stood 
with an ocean of sighs frozen in my bosom. I could re- 
main no longer. She was near me, and I could not see 
her ; near me in the arms of one loved better than I, and 
I would not see her, and I would not be by her. But how 
to escape from the nearness of the best beloved ? I had 
not this time forgotten the mark ; for the fact that I could 
not enter the sphere of these living beings kept me aware 
that, for me, I moved in a vision, while they moved in life. 
I looked all a!)out for the mark, but could see it nowhere ; 
for I avoided looking just where it was. There the dull 
red cipher glowed, on the very door of their secret cham- 
ber. Struck with agony, I dashed it open, and fell at the 
feet of the ancient woman, who still spun on, the whole 
dissolved ocean of my sighs bursting from me in a storm of 
tearless sobs. Whether I fainted or slept, I do not know ; 
but as I returned to consciousness, before I seemed to have 
power to move, I heard the woman singing, and could dis- 
tinguish the words : — 

* ' light of dead and of dying days ! 

O Love ! in thy glory go, 
In a rosy mist and a moony maze, 

O'er the pathless peaks of snow. 
13 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 217 

"But what is left for the cold gray soul, 
That moans like a wounded dove ? 
One wine is left in the broken bowl — 
'Tis — To love, and love, and love." 

Now I could weep. When she saw me weeping, she 
sang : — 

" Better to sit at the waters' birth, 
Than a sea of waves to win ; 
To live in the love that floweth forth, 
Than the love that cometh in. 

" Be thy heart a well of love, my child. 
Flowing, and free, and sure ; 
For a cistern of love, though undefiled, 
Keeps not the spirit pure." 

I rose from the earth, loving the white lady as I had 
never loved her before. 

Then I walked up to the door of Dismay, and opened it 
and went out. And lo ! I came forth upon a crowded 
street, where men and women went to and fro in multitudes. 
I knew it well, and, turning to one hand, walked sadly 
along the pavement. Suddenly I saw approaching me, a 
little way off, a form well known to me (well-known ! — 
alas, how weak the word !) in the years when I thought my 
boyhood was left behind, and shortly before I entered the 
realm of Fairy-land. Wrong and Sorrow had gone to- 
gether, hand in hand, as it is well they do. Unchangeably 



218 PHANTASTES : 

dear was that face. It lay in mj heart as a child lies in 
its own white bed ; but I could not meet her. 

" Anything but that," I said, and, turning aside, sprang 
up the steps to a door on which I fancied I saw the mystic 
sign. I entered — not the mysterious cottage, but her home. 
I rushed wildly on and stood by the door of her room. 
"She is out. ' ' I said. ' ' I will see the old room once more. ' ' 
I opened the door gently, and stood in a great, solemn 
church. A deep-toned bell, whose sounds throbbed and 
echoed and swam through the empty building, struck the 
hour of midnight. The moon shone through the win- 
dows of the clerestory, and enough of the ghostly radi- 
ance was diffused through the church to let me see, 
walking with a stately yet somewhat trailing and stum- 
bling step down the opposite aisle, — for I stood in one 
of the transepts, — a figure dressed in a white robe, 
whether for the night, or for that longer night which 
lies too deep for the day, I could not tell. Was it 
she ? and was this her chamber ? I crossed the chu^h 
and followed. The figure stopped, seemed to ascend as it 
were a high bed, and lay down. I reached the place where 
it lay, glimmering white. The bed was a tomb. The light 
was too ghostly to see clearly, but I passed my hand over 
the face and the hands and the feet, which were all bare. 
They were cold — they were marble ; but I knew them. It 
grew dark. I turned to retrace my steps, but found ere 
long that I had wandered into what seemed a little chapel. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 219 

I groped about, seeking the *door. Everything I touched 
belonged to the dead. My hands fell on the cold effigy of a 
knight, who lay with his legs crossed and his sword broken 
beside him. He lay in his noble rest, and I lived on in 
ignoble strife. I felt for the left hand and a certain finger. 
I found there the ring I knew : he was one of my own an- 
cestors. I was in the chapel over the burial-vault of my 
race. I called aloud, ' ' If any of the dead are moving 
here, let them take pity upon me, for I, alas ! am still alive ; 
and let some dead woman comfort me, for I am a stranger 
in the land of the dead, and see no light." A warm 
kiss alighted on my lips through the dark. And I said, 
" The dead kiss well ; I will not be afraid." And a great 
hand was reached out of the dark and grasped mine for a 
moment, mightily and tenderly. I said to myself, " The 
veil between, though very dark, is very thin." 

Groping my way further, I stumbled over the heavy 
stone that covered the entrance of the vault, and, in stum- 
bling, descried upon the stone the mark, glowing in red fire. 
I caught the great ring. All my effort could not have 
moved the huge slab ; but it opened the door of the cottage, 
and I threw myself once more, pale and speechless, on the 
couch beside the ancient dame. She sang once more : — 

" Thou dreamest : on a rock thou art, 
High o'er the broken wave ; 
Thou fallest with .a fearful start, 
But not into thy grave ; 



220 PHANTASIES : 

Por, waking in the iflorning's light, 
Thou smilest at the vanished night. 

" So wilt thou sink, all pale and dumb, 

Into the fainting gloom ; 
But, ere the coming terrors come, 

Thou wak'st — where is the tomb ? 
Thou wak'st — the dead ones smile above, 
With hovering arms of sleepless love." 

She paused ; then sang again : — 

" We weep for gladness, weep for grief; 
The tears they are the same ; 
We sigh for longing, and relief; 
The sighs have but one name. 

" And mingled in the dying strife 
Are moans that are not sad ; 
The pangs of death are throbs of life. 
Its sighs are sometimes glad. 

*' The face is very strange and white : 
It is Earth's only spot 
That feebly flickers back the light 
The living seeth not." 

I fell asleep, and slept a dreamless sleep for I know not 
how long. When I awoke I found that my hostess had 
moved from where she had been sitting, and now sat be- 
tween me and the fourth door. I guessed that her design 
was to prevent my entering there. I sprang from the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 221 

couch, and darted past her to the door. I opened it at 
once and went out. All I remember is a cry of distress 
from the woman: "Don't go there, mj child ! Don't go 
there ! " But I was gone. 

I knew nothing more ; or if I did, I had forgot it all 
when I awoke to consciousness, lying on the floor of the 
cottage, with my head in the lap of the woman, who was 
weeping over me and stroking my hair with both hands, 
talking to me as a mother might talk to a sick and sleep- 
ing or a dead child. As soon as I looked up and saw her, 
she smiled through her tears ; smiled with withered face 
and young eyes, till her countenance was irradiated with 
the light of the smile. Then she bathed my head and face 
and hands in an icy cold, colorless liquid, which smelt a 
little of damp earth. Immediately I was able to sit up. 
She rose and put some food before me. When I had 
eaten, she said : — 

" Listen to me, my child. You must leave me di- 
rectly ! " 

" Leave you ! " I said. " I am so happy with you. I 
never was so happy in my life." 

"But you must go," she rejoined, sadly. "Listen! 
What do you hear? " 

"I hear the sound as of a great throbbing of water." 

"Ah! you do hear it? Well. I had to go through that 
door — the door of the Timeless" (and she shuddered as 
•she pointed to the fourth door) — "to find you; for if I 



222 PHANTASIES : 

had not gone you would never have entered again ; and be- 
cause I went, the waters around mj cottage will rise and 
rise, and flow and come, till they build a great firmament 
of waters over my dwelling. But as long as I keep my 
fire burning, they cannot enter. I have fuel enough for 
years; and after one year they will sink away again, and 
be just as they were before you came. I have not been 
buried for a hundred years now." And she smiled and 
wept. 

" Alas ! alas ! " I cried. " I have brought this evil on 
the best and kindest of friends, who has filled my heart with 
great gifts." 

" Do not think of that," she rejoined. " I can bear it 
very well. You will come back to me some day, I know. 
But I beg you, for my sake, my dear child, to do one 
thing. In whatever sorrow you may be, however incon- 
solable and irremediable it may appear, believe me, that 
the old woman in the cottage, with the young eyes" (and 
she smiled), "knows something, though she must not 
always tell it, that would quite satisfy you about it, even 
in the worst moments of your distress. Now you must 
go." 

" But how can I go, if the waters are all about, and if 
the doors all lead into other regions and other worlds? " 

" This is not an island," she replied ; "but is joined to 
the land by a narrow neck ; and for the door, I will lead 
you myself through the right one." 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 223 

She took my hand, and led me through the third door ; 
■whereupon I found myself standing in the deep, grassy turf 
on which I had landed from the little boat, but upon the 
opposite side of the cottage. She pointed out the direction 
I must take to find the isthmus and escape the rising 
waters. 

Then, putting her arms around me, she held me to her 
bosom ; and, as I kissed her, I felt as if I were leaving my 
mother for the first time, and could not help weeping bit- 
terly. At length she gently pushed me away, and with 
the words, " Go, my son, and do something worth doing," 
turned back, and, entering the cottage, closed the door be- 
hind her. 

I felt very desolate as I went. 



224 PHANTASIES ; 



XX. 

Thou hadst no fame ; that which thou didst like good 
Was but thy appetite that swayed thy blood 
For that time to the best ; for as a blast 
That through a house comes, usually doth cast 
Things out of order, yet by chance may come 
And blow some one thing to his proper room, 
So did thy appetite, and not thy zeal, 
Sway thee by chance to do some one thing well. 

Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess. 



The noble hart that harbours vertuous thought, 
And is with cliilde of glorious great intent. 
Can never rest, untill it forth hare brought 
Th' eternall brood of^glorie excellent. 

Spenser. — The Faerie Queene. 

I HAD not gone very far before I felt that the turf be- 
neath my feet was soaked with the rising waters. But I 
reached the isthmus in safety. It was rocky, and so much 
higher than the level of the peninsula that I had plenty 
of time to cross. I saw on each side of me the water rising 
rapidly, altogether without wind, or violent motion, or 
broken waves, but as if a slow, strong fire were glowing 
beneath it. Ascending a steep acclivity, I found myself at 
last in an open, rocky country. After travelling for some 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 225 

hours, as nearly in a straight line as I could. I arrived at a 
lonely tower, built on the top of a little hill, which over- 
looked the whole neighboring country. As I approached, 
I heard the clang of an anvil ; and so rapid were the blows 
that I despaired of making myself heard till a pause in the 
work should ensue. It was some minutes before a cessa- 
tion took place ; but when it did, I knocked loudly, and 
had not long to wait; for, a moment after, the door was 
partly opened by a noble-looking youth, half-undressed, 
glowing with heat, and begrimed with the blackness of the 
forge. In one hand he held a sword, so lately from the 
furnace that it yet shone with a dull fire. As soon as he 
saw me, he threw the door wide open, and, standing aside, 
invited me very cordially to enter. I did so ; when he 
shut and bolted the door most carefully, and then led the 
way inwards. He brought me into a rude hall, which 
seemed to occupy almost the whole of the ground floor of 
the little tower, and which I saw was now being used as a 
workshop. A huge fire roared on the hearth, beside 
which was an anvil. By the anvil stood, in similar un- 
dress, and in a waiting attitude, hammer in hand, a second 
youth, tall as the former, but far more slightly built. Re- 
versing the usual course of perception in such meetings, I 
thought them, at first sight, very unlike ; and, at the sec- 
ond glance, knew that they were brothers. The former, 
and apparently the elder, was muscular and dark, with 
curling hair, and large hazel eyes, which sometimes grew 



226 PHANTASIES : 

wondrously soft. The second was slender and fair, yet 
with a countenance like an eagle, and an eye which, though 
pale blue, shone with an almost fierce expression. He 
stood erect, as if looking from a lofty mountain crag over 
a vast plain outstretched below. As soon as we entered 
the hall, the elder turned to me, and I saw that a glow of 
satisfaction shone on both their faces. To my surprise and 
great pleasure, he addressed me thus : — 

'' Brother, will you sit by the fire and rest, till we finish 
this part of our work ? " 

I signified my assent, and, resolved to await any dis- 
closure they might be inclined to make, seated myself in 
silence near the hearth. 

The elder brother then laid the sword in the fire, covered 
it well over, and when it had attained a sufficient degree of 
heat, drew it out and laid it on the anvil, moving it care- 
fully about, while the younger, with a succession of quick, 
smart blows, appeared either to be welding it, or hammer- 
ing one part of it to a consenting shape with the rest. 
Having finished, they laid it carefully in the fire ; and, 
when it was very hot indeed, plunged it into a vessel full 
of some liquid, whence a blue flame sprang upwards as the 
glowing steel entered. There they left it, and, drawing 
two stools to the fire, sat down, one on each side of me. 

" We are very glad to see you, brother. We have been 
expecting you for some days," said the dark-haired youth. 

" I am proud to be called your brother," I rejoined; 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 227 

"and you will not think I refuse the name, if I desire to 
know why you honor me with it ? " 

"Ah! then he does not know about it," said the 
younger, " We thought you had known of the bond 
betwixt us, and the work we have to do together. You 
must tell him, brother, from the first." 

So the elder began : — 

" Our father is king of this country. Before we were 
born, three giant brothers had appeared in the land. No 
one knew exactly when, and no one had the least idea 
whence they came. They took possession of a ruined castle 
that had stood unchanged and unoccupied within the 
memory of any of the country people. The vaults of this 
castle had r^nained uninjured by time, and these, I pre- 
sume, they made use of at first. They were rarely seen, 
and never ofiered the least injury to any one ; so that they 
were regarded in the neighborhood as at least perfectly 
harmless, if not rather benevolent, beings. But it began to 
be observed that the old castle had assumed somehow or 
other, no one knew when or how, a somewhat difierent look 
from what it used to have. Not only were several breaches 
in the lower part of the walls built up, but actually some 
of the battlements which yet stood, had been repaired, ap- 
parently to prevent them from falling into worse decay, 
while the more important parts were being restored. Of 
course, every one supposed the giants must have a hand in 
the work, but no one ever saw them engaged in it. The 



228 PHANTASTES : 

peasants became yet more uneasy, after one, who had con- 
cealed himself, and watched all night, in the neighborhood 
of the castle, reported that he had seen, in full moonlight, 
the three huge giants working with might and main, all 
night long, restoring to their former position some massive 
stones, formerly steps of a grand turnpike stair, a great 
portion of which had long since fallen, along with part of 
the wall of the round tower in which it had been built. 
This wall they were completing, foot by foot, along with 
the stair. But the people said they had no just pretext for 
interfering ; although the real reason for letting the giants 
alone was, that everybody was far too much afraid of them 
to interrupt them. 

" At length, with the help of a neighboring quarry, the 
whole of the external wall of the castle was finished. And 
now the country folks were in greater fear than before. 
But for several years the giants remained very peaceful. 
The reason of this was afterwards supposed to be the fact 
that they were distantly related to several good people in 
the country ; for, as long as these lived, they remained 
quiet ; but as soon as they were all dead 'the real nature 
of the giants broke out. Having completed the outside of 
their castle, they proceeded, by spoiling the country houses 
around them, to make a quite luxurious provision for their 
comfort within. Affairs reached such a pass that the news 
of theft" robberies came to my father's ears ; but he, alas ; 
was so crippled in his resources, by a war he was carrying 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 229 

on with a neighboring prince, that be could only spare a 
very few men to attempt the capture of their stronghold. 
Upon these the giants issued in the night, and slew every 
man of them. And now, grown bolder by success and 
impunity, they no longer confined their depredations to 
property, but began to seize the persons of their distin- 
guished neighbors, knights and ladies, and hold them in 
durance, the misery of which was heightened by all manner 
of indignity, until they were redeemed by their friends at 
an exorbitant ransom. Many knights have adventured 
their overthrow, but to their own instead ; for they have all 
been slain, or captured, or forced to make a hasty retreat. 
To crown their enormities, if any man now attempts their 
destruction, they, immediately upon his defeat, put one or 
more of their captives to a shameful death, on a turret in 
sight of all passers-by ; so that they have been much less mo- 
lested of late ; and we, although we have bunied, for years, 
to attack these demons and destroy them, dared not, for the 
sake of their captives, risk the adventure, before we should 
have reached at least our earliest manhood. Now, how- 
ever, we are preparing for the attempt ; and the grounds 
of this preparation are these. Having only the resolution, 
and not the experience, necessary for the undertaking, we 
went and consulted a lonely woman of wisdom, who lives 
not very far from here, in the direction of the quarter from 
which you have come. She received us most kindly, and 
gave us what seems to us the best of advice. She first 



230 PHANTASIES : 

inquired what experience we had had in arms. "We told her 
we had been well exercised from our boyhood, and for some 
years had kept ourselves in constant practice, with a view 
to this necessity. 

" ' But you have not actually fought for life and death ? ' 
said she. 

" We were forced to confess we had not. 

" ' So much the better in some respects,' she replied. 
' Now, listen to me. Go first and work with an armorer, 
for as long time as you find needful to obtain a knowledge 
of his craft; which will not be long, seeing your hearts 
will be all in the work. Then go to some lonely tower, 
you two alone. Receive no visits from man or woman. 
There forge for yourselves every piece of armor that you 
wish to wear, or to use in your coming encounter. And 
keep up your exercises. As, however, two of you can be 
no match for the three giants, I will find you, if I can, a 
third brother, who will take on himself the third share of 
the fight and the preparation. Indeed, I have already 
seen one, who will, I think, be the very man for your 
fellowship ; but it will be some time before he comes to me. 
He is wandering now without an aim. I will show him to 
you in a glass, and, when he comes, you will know him at 
once. If he will share your endeavors, you must teach 
him all you know, and he will repay you well, in present 
song, and in future deeds.' 

' ' She opened the door of a curious old cabinet that stood 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 231 

in the room. On the inside of this door was an oval con- 
vex mirror. Looking at it for some time, we at length saw 
reflected the place where we stood, and the old dame seated 
in her chair. Our forms were not reflected. But at the 
feet of the dame, lay a young man, yourself, weeping. 

" ' Surely this youth will not serve our ends/ said I, 
' for he weeps.' 

''The old woman smiled. 'Past tears are present 
strength,' said she. 

" ' Oh ! ' said my brother, 'I saw you weep once over 
an eagle you shot.' 

" ' That was because it was so like you, brother,' I re- 
plied ; ' but, indeed, this youth may have better cause for 
tears than that — I was wrong.' 

" ' Wait a while,' said the woman ; ' if I mistake not, he 
will make you weep till your tears are dry forever. Tears 
are the only cure for weeping. And you may have need 
of the cure before you go forth to fight the giants. You 
must wait for him in your tower till he comes.' 

" Now, if you will join us, we will soon teach you to 
make your armor ; and we will fight together, and work 
together, and love each other as never three loved before. 
And you will sing to us, will you not? " 

"That I will, when I can," I answered; "but it is 
only at times that the power of song comes upon me. For 
that I must wait ; but I have a feeling that if I work well, 
song will not be far off to enliven the labor." 



232 PHANTASTES : 

This wag all the compact made ; the brothers required 
nothing more, and I did not think of giving anything more. 
I rose, and threw off my upper garments. 

"I know the uses of the sword," I said. "I am 
ashamed of my white hands beside yours so nobly soiled 
and hard; but that shame will soon be wiped away." 

"No, no; we will not work to-day. Rest is as needful 
as toil. Bring the wine, brother ; it is your turn to serve 
to-day." 

The younger brother soon covered a -table with rough 
viands, but good wine ; and we ate and drank heartily be- 
side our work. Before the meal was over, I had learned 
all their story. Each had something in his heart which 
made the conviction, that he would victoriously perish in 
the coming conflict, a real sorrow to him. Otherwise they 
thought they would have lived enough. The causes of 
their trouble were respectively these : — 

While they wrought with an armorer, in a city famed 
for workmanship in steel and silver, the elder had fallen in, 
love with a lady, as far beneath him in real rank as she 
was above the station he had as apprentice to an armorer. 
Nor did he seek to further his suit by discovering himself; 
but there was simply so much manhood about him that no 
one ever thought of rank when in his company. This is 
what his brother said about it. The lady could not help 
loving him in return. He told her, when he left her, that 
he had a perilous adventure before him, and that when it 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 233 

was achieved, she would either see him return to claim her, 
or hear that he had died with honor. The younger broth- 
er's grief arose from the fact that, if thej were both slain, 
his old father, the king, would be childless. His love for 
his father was so exceeding that, to one unable to sympa- 
thize with it, it would have appeared extravagant. Both 
loved him equally at heart ; but the love of the younger - 
had been more developed, because his thoughts and anxie- 
ties had not been otherwise occupied. When at home he 
had been his constant companion, and of late had minis- 
tered to the infirmities of his growing age. The youth was 
never weary of listening to the tales of his sire's youthful 
adventures, and had not yet in the smallest degree lost 
the conviction that his father was the greatest man in the 
world. The grandest triumph possible to his conception 
was, to return to his father, laden with the spoils of one of 
the hated giants. But they both were in some dread, lest 
the thought of the loneliness of these two might occur to 
them in the moment when decision was most necessary, 
and disturb, in some degree, the self-possession requisite for 
the success of their attempt. For, as I have said, they 
were yet untried in actual conflict. "Now," thought I, 
" I see to what the powers of my gift must minister." For 
my own part, I did not dread death, for I had nothing to 
care to live for ; but I dreaded the encounter because of 
the responsibility connected with it. I resolved, however, 
to work hard, and thus grow cool, and quick, and forceful. 



234 PHANTASIES : 

The time passed away in work and song, in talk and 
ramble, in friendly fight and brotherly aid. I would not 
forge for myself armor of heavy mail like theirs, for I was 
not so powerful as they, and depended more for any success 
I might secure, upon nimbleness of motion, certainty of 
eye, and ready response of hand. Therefore, I began to 
make for myself a shirt of steel plates and rings ; which 
work, while more troublesome, was better suited to me than 
the heavier labor. Much assistance did the brothers give 
me, even after, by their instructions, I was able to make 
some progress alone. Their work was in a moment aban- 
doned, to render any required aid to mine. As the old 
woman had promised, I tried to repay them with song ; 
and many were the tears they both shed over my ballads 
and dirges. The songs they liked best to hear were two 
which I made for them. They were not half so good as 
many others I knew, especially some I had learned from 
the wise woman in the cottage ; but what comes nearest to 
our needs we like the best. 

I. 

" The king sat on his throne, 
Glowing in gold and red; 
The crown in his right hand shone, 
And the gray hairs crowned his head. 

" His only son walks in, 

And in walls of steel he stands : 
'Make me, O father, strong to win. 
With the blessing of holy hands.' 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 235 

" He knelt before his sire, 

Who blessed him with feeble smile ; 

His eyes shone out with a kingly fire, 

But his old lips quivered the while. 

" ' Go to the fight, my son, 

Bring back the giant's head ; 
And the crown with which my brows have done, 
Shall glitter on thine instead.' 

" ' My father, I seek no crown, 

But unspoken praise from thee ; 
For thy people's good, and thy renown, 
I will die to set them free.' 

" The king sat down and waited there, 
And rose not, night nor day ; 
Till a sound of shouting filled the air, 
And cries of a sore dismay. 

" Then like a king he sat once more, 
With the crown upon his head ; 
And up to the throne the people bore 
A mighty giant dead. 

" And up to the throne the people bore 
A pale and lifeless boy. 
The king rose up like a proplTet of yore, 
In a lofty, death-like joy. 

" He put the crown on the chilly brow : 
' Thou should'st have reigned with me ; 
But Death is the king of both, and now 
I go to obey with thee. 



286 PHANTASIES : 

* ' Surely some good in me there lay, 
To beget the noble one.' 
The old man smiled like a winter day, 
And fell beside his son." 

II. 

" ' lady, thy lover is dead,' they cried ; 
' He is dead, but hath slain the foe ; 
He hath left his name to be magnified 
In a song of wonder and woe.' 

" 'Alas ! I am well repaid,' said she, 
' With a pain that stings like joy ; 
For I feared, from his tenderness to me , 
That he was but a feeble boy. 

*' 'Now I shall hold my head on high. 
The queen among my kind. 
If ye hear a sound, 'tis only a sigh 
For a glory left behind.' " 

The first three times I sang these songs they both wept 
passionately. But after the third time they wept no more. 
Their eyes shone, and their faces grew pale, but they never 
wept at any of my songs again. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 237 



XXI. 

I put my life in thy hands. 

Tlie Boole of Judges. 

At length, with much toil and equal delight, our armor 
was finished. We armed each other, and tested the strength 
of the defence, with many blows of loving force. I was in- 
ferior in strength to both my brothers, but a little more 
agile than either ; and upon this agility, joined to precision 
in hitting with the point of my weapon, I grounded my 
hopes of success in the ensuing combat. I likewise la- 
bored to develop yet more the keenness of sight with which 
I was naturally gifted ; and, from the remarks of my com- 
panions, I soon learned that my endeavors were not in 
vain. 

The morning arrived on which we had determined to 
make the attempt, and succeed or perish, — perhaps both. 
We had resolved to fight on foot, knowing that the mishap 
of many of the knights who had made the attempt, had re- 
sulted from the fright of their horses at the appearance 
of the giants, and believing with Sir Gawain, that, though 
mare's sons might be false to us, the earth would never 
prove a traitor. But most of our preparations were, in 
their immediate aim at least, frustrated. 



238 PHANTASIES : 

We rose, that fatal morning, by daybreak. "We had 
rested from all labor the day before, and now were fresh as 
the lark. We bathed in cold spring water, and dressed 
ourselves in clean garments, with a sense of preparation as 
for a solemn festivity. When we had broken our fast, I 
took an old lyre, which I had found in the tower and had 
myself repaired, and sung for the last time the two ballads 
of which I have said so much already. I followed them 
with this, for a closing song : — 

" Oh, well for him who breaks his dream 
With the blow that ends the strife ; 
And, waking, knows the peace that flows 
Around the pain of life ! 

" We are dead, my brothers ! Our bodies clasp, 
As an armor, our souls about; 
This hand is the battle-axe I grasp, 
And this my hammer stout. 

"Fear not, my brothers, for we are dead; 
No noise can break our rest ; 
The calm of the grave is about the head, 
And the heart heaves not the breast. 

" And our life we throw to our people back. 
To live with, a further store ; 
We leave it them, that there be no lack 
In the land where we live no more. 

" Oh, well for him who breaks liis dream 
With the blow that ends the strife ; 
And, waking, knows the peace that flows 
Around the noise of life ! " 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 239 

As the last few tones of the instrument were following, 
like a dirge, the death of the song, we all sprang to our 
feet ; for, thTough one of the little windows of the tower, 
towards which I had looked as I sang, I saw, suddenly 
rising over the edge of the slope on which our tower stood, 
three enormous heads. The brothers knew at once, by 
my looks, what caused ray sudden movement. We were 
utterly unarmed, and there was no time to arm. But we 
seemed to adopt the same resolution simultaneously ; for 
each caught up his favorite weapon, and, leaving his defence 
behind, sprang to the door. I snatched up a long rapier, 
abruptly, but very finely pointed, in my sword-hand, and 
in the other a sabre ; the elder brother seized his heavy 
battle-axe ; and the younger, a great two-handed sword, 
which he wielded in one hand, like a feather. We had just 
time to get clear of the tower, embrace and say good-by, 
and part to some little distance, that we might not encumber 
each other's motions, ere the triple giant-brotherhood drew 
near to attack us. They were about twice our height, and 
armed to the teeth. Through the visors of their helmets 
their monstrous eyes shone with a horrible ferocity, I was 
in the middle position, and the middle giant approached me. 
My eyes were busy with his armor, and I was not a moment 
in settling my mode of attack. I saw that his body-armor 
was somewhat clumsily made, and that the overlappings in 
the lower part had more play than necessary ; and I hoped 
that, in a fortunate moment, some joint would open a little 



240 PHANTASTES : 

in a visible and accessible part. I stood till he came near 
enough to aim a blow at me with the mace, which has been, 
in all ages, the favorite weapon of giants, when, of course, 
I leaped aside, and let the blow fall upon the spot where I 
had been standing. I expected this would strain the joints 
of his armor yet more. Full of fury, he made at me 
again ; but I kept him busy constantly eluding his blows, 
and hoping thus to fatigue him. He did not seem to fear 
any assault from me, and I attempted none as yet ; but 
while I watched his motions, in order to avoid his blows, 
I, at the same time, kept equal watch upon those joints 
of his armor, through some one of which I hoped to reach 
his life. At length, as if somewhat fatigued, he paused a 
moment, and drew himself slightly up ; I bounded forward, 
foot and hand, ran my rapier right through to the armor 
of his back, let go the hilt, and passing under his right 
arm, turned as he fell, and flew at him with my sabre. At 
one happy blow I divided the band of his helmet, which 
fell off, and allowed me, with a second cut across the eyes, 
to blind him quite ; after which I clove his head, and 
turned, uninjured, to see how my brothers had fared. 
Both the giants were down ; but so were my brothers. I 
flew first to the one and then to the other couple. Both 
pairs of combatants were dead, and yet locked together, as 
in the death-struggle. The elder had buried his battle-axe 
in the body of his foe, and had fallen beneath him as he 
fell. The giant had strangled him in his own death- 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 241 

agonies. The younger had nearly hewn off the left leg of 
his enemy; and, grappled with in the act, had, while they 
rolled together on the earth, found for his dagger a passage 
betwixt the gorget and cuirass of the giant, and stabbed him 
mortally in the throat. The blood from the giant's throat 
was yet pouring over the hand of his foe, which still 
grasped the hilt of the dagger sheathed in the wound. 
They lay silent. I, the least worthy, remained the sole 
survivor in the lists. 

As I stood exhausted amidst the dead, after the first 
worthy deed of my life, I suddenly looked behind me, and 
there lay the Shadow, black in the sunshine. I went into 
the lonely tower, and there lay the useless armor of the 
noble youths, — supine as they. Ah, how sad it looked ! 
It was a glorious death ; but it was death. My songs could 
not comfort me now. I was almost ashamed that I was 
alive, when they, the true-hearted, were no more. And 
yet I breathed freer to think that I had gone through the 
trial, and had not failed. And perhaps I may be forgiven 
if some feelings of pride arose in my bosom, when I looked 
down on the mighty form that lay dead by my hand. 

"After all, however," I said to myself, and my heart 
sank, "it was only skill. Your giant was but a 
blunderer." 

I left the bodies of friends and foes peaceful enough 
when the death-fight was over, and, hastening to the 
country below, roused the peasants. They came with 



^ 242 PHANTASIES: 

shouting and gladness, bringing wagons to carry the bodies. 
I resolved to take the princes home to their father, each as 
he lay, in the arms of his country's foe. But first I searched 
the giants and found the keys of their castle, to which I 
repaired, followed by a great company of the people. It 
was a place of wonderful strength. I released the prisoners, 
knights and ladies, all in a sad condition from the cruelties 
and neglects of the giants. It humbled me to see them 
crowding round me with thanks, when in truth the glorious 
brothers, lying dead by their lonely tower, were those to 
whom the thanks belonged. I had but aided in carrying 
out the thought born in their brain, and uttered in visible 
form before ever I laid hold thereupon. Yet I did count 
myself happy to have been chosen for their brother in this 
great deed. 

After a few hours spent in refreshing and clothing the 
prisoners, we all commenced our journey towards the 
capital. This was slow at first ; but, as the strength and 
spirits of the prisoners returned, it became more rapid, and 
in three days we reached the palace of the king. As we 
entered the city gates, with the huge bulks lying each on 
a wagon drawn by horses, and two of them inextricably 
intertwined with the dead bodies of their princes, the people 
raised a shout and then a cry, and followed in multitudes 
the solemn procession. 

I will not attempt to describe the behavior of the grand 
old king. Joy and pride in his sons overcame his sorrow 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 243 

at their loss. On me he heaped every kindness that heart 
could devise or hand execute. He used to sit and question 
me, night after night, about everything that was in any 
way connected with them and their preparations. Our 
mode of life and relation to each other, during the time 
we spent together, was a constant theme. He entered into 
the minutest details of the construction of the armor, even 
to a peculiar mode of riveting some of the plates with un- 
wearying interest. This armor I had intended to beg of 
the king as my sole memorials of the contest ; but, when I 
saw the delight he took in contemplating it, and the con- 
solation it appeared to afford him in his sorrow, I could not 
ask for it ; but, at his request, left my own, weapons and 
all, to be joined with theirs in a trophy erected in the 
grand square of the palace. The king, with gorgeous 
ceremony, dubbed me knight with his own old hand, in 
which trembled the sword of his youth. 

During the short time I remained my company was 
naturally much courted by the young nobles. I was in 
a constant round of gayety and diversion, notwithstanding 
that the court was in mourning ; for the country was so 
rejoiced at the death of the giants, and so many of their 
lost friends had been restored to the nobility and men of 
wealth, that the gladness surpassed the grief. "Ye have 
indeed left your lives to your people, my great brothers ! " 
I said. 

But I was ever and ever haunted by the old shadow, 



244 PHANTASIES : 

which I had not seen all the time that I was at work in the 

tower. Even in the society of the ladies of the court, who 
seemed to think it only their duty to make my stay there 
as pleasant to me as possible, I could not help being con- 
scious of its presence, although it might not be annoying me 
at the time. At length, somewhat weary of uninterrupted 
pleasure, and nowise strengthened thereby either in body 
or mind, I put on a splendid suit of armor of steel inlaid 
with silver, which the old king had given me, and, mount- 
ing the horse on which it had been brought to me, took my 
leave of the palace, to visit the distant city in which the 
lady dwelt whom the elder prince had loved. I anticipated 
a sore task, in conveying to her the news of his glorious 
fate ; but this trial was spared me, in a manner as strange 
as anything that had happened to me in Fairy-land. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 245 



XXII. 

Niemand hat meine Gestalt als der Ich. 

Schoppe, in Jean Paul's Titan. 

No one has my form but the /. 



Joy's a subtil elf. 
I think man's happiest when he forgets himself. 

Ctkil Tourneur. — TJie Revenger's Tragedy. 

On the third day of my journey I was riding gently 
along a road, apparently little frequented, to judge from 
the grass that grew upon it. I was approaching a forest. 
Everywhere in Fairy-land forests are the places where one 
may most certainly expect adventures. As I drew near, a 
youth, unarmed, gentle, and beautiful, who had just cut a 
branch from a yew growing on the skirts of the wood, evi- 
dently to make himself a bow, met me, and thus accosted 
me : — 

' ' Sir knight, be careful as thou ridest through this for- 
est ; for it is said to be strangely enchanted, in a sort which 
even those who have been witnesses of its enchantment can 
hardly describe." 

I thanked him for his advice, which I promised to follow, 
and rode on. But the moment I entered the wood it 



246 , PHANTASIES : 

seemed to me that, if enchantment there was, it must be of 
a good kind ; for the shadow, which had been more than 
usually dark and distressing since I had set out on this 
journey, suddenly disappeared. I felt a wonderful eleva- 
tion of spirits, and began to reflect on my past life, and 
especially on my combat with the giants, with such satis- 
faction, that I had actually to remind myself that I had only 
killed one of them ; and that, but for the brothers, I should 
never have had the idea of attacking them, not to mention 
the smallest power of standing to it. Still I rejoiced, and 
counted myself amongst the glorious knights of old ; having 
even the unspeakable presumption — my shame and self- 
condemnation at the memory of it are such that I write it 
as the only and sorest penance I can perform — to think of 
myself (will the world believe it?) as side by side with Sir 
Galahad ! Scarcely had the thought been born in my 
mind, when, approaching me from the left, through the 
trees, I espied a resplendent knight, of mighty size, whose 
armor seemed to shine of itself, without the sun. When he 
drew near, I was astonished to see that this armor was like 
my own ; nay, I could trace, line for line, the correspond- 
ence of the inlaid silver to the device on my own. His 
horse, too, was like mine in color, form, and motion ; save 
that, like his rider, he was greater and fiercer than his 
counterpart. The knight rode with beaver up. As he 
halted right opposite to me in the narrow path, barring my 
way, I saw the reflection of my countenance in the centre 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 247 

plate of shining steel on bis breastplate. Above it rose the 
same face, — bis face, — only, as I bave said, larger and 
fiercer. I was bewildered. I could not belp feeling some 
admiration of bim, but it was mingled witb a dim convic- 
tion tbat he was evil, and that I ought to fight with him. 

" Let me pass," I said. 

"When I will," he replied. 

Something within me said : " Spear in rest, and ride at 
him ! else thou art forever a slave." 

I tried, but my arm trembled so much that I could not 
couch my lance. To tell the truth, I, who had overcome 
the giant, shook like a coward before this knight. He 
gave a scornful laugh, that echoed through the wood, 
turned his horse, and said, without looking round, ' ' Follow 
me." 

I obeyed, abashed and stupefied. How long he led, and 
bow long I followed, I cannot tell. " I never knew misery 
before," I said to myself "Would that I had at least 
struck him, and bad had my death-blow in return ! Why, 
then, do I not call to him to wheel and defend himself? 
Alas ! I know not why, but I cannot. One look from him 
would cow me like a beaten hound." I followed, and was 
silent. 

At length we came to a dreary square tower in the middle 
of a dense forest. It looked as if scarce a ti-ee had been cut 
down to make room for it. Across the very door, diag- 
onally, grew the stem of a tree, so large that there was just 



248 PHANTASTES : 

room to squeeze past it in order to enter. One miserable 
square hole in the roof was the only visible suggestion of a 
window. Turret or battlement, or projecting masonry of 
any kind, it had none. Clear and smooth and massive, it 
rose from its base, and ended with a line straight and un- 
broken. The roof, carried to a centre from each of the 
four walls, rose slightly to the point where the rafters met. 
Round the base lay several little heaps of either bits of 
broken branches, withered and peeled, or half-whitened 
bones, I could not distinguish which. As I approached, 
the ground sounded hollow beneath my horse's hoofs. The 
knight took a great key from his pocket, and reaching past 
the stem of the tree, with some difficulty opened the door. 
" Dismount ! " he commanded. I obeyed. He turned my 
horse's head away from the tower, gave him a terrible 
blow with the flat side of his sword, and sent him madly 
tearing through the forest. 

"Now," said he "enter, and take your companion with 
you." 

I looked round : knight and horse had vanished, and be- 
hind me lay the horrible shadow. I entered, for I could 
not help myself ; and the shadow followed me. I had a 
terrible conviction that the knight and he were one. The 
door closed behind me. 

Now I was indeed in pitiful plight. There was literally 
nothing in the tower but my shadow and me. The walls 
rose right up to the roof; in which, as I had seen from 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 249 

without, there was one little square opening. This I now 
knew to be the only window the tower possessed. I sat 
down on the floor in listless wretchedness. I think I must 
have fallen asleep, and have slept for hours; for I sud- 
denly became aware of existence in observing that the 
moon was shining through the hole in the roof As she 
rose higher and higher, her light crept down the wall over 
me, till at last it shone right upon my head. Instantane- 
ously the walls of the tower seemed to vanish away like a 
mist. I sat beneath a beech, on the edge of a forest, and 
the open country lay, in the moonlight, for miles and miles 
around me, spotted with glimmering houses and spires and 
towers. I thought with myself, " Oh, joy ! it was only a 
dream ; the horrible, narrow waste is gone, and I wake be- 
neath a beech-tree, perhaps one that loves me, and I can 
go where I will." I rose, as I thought, and walked about, 
and did what I would, but ever kept near the tree ; for 
always, and, of course, since my meeting with the woman 
of the beech-tree far more than ever, I loved that tree. 
So the night wore on. I waited for the sun to rise, before 
I could venture to renew my journey. But as soon as the 
first faint light of the dawn appeared, instead of shining 
upon me from the eye of the morning, it stole like a faint- 
ing ghost through the little square hole above my head ; 
and the walls came out as the light grew, and the glorious 
night was swallowed up of the hateful day. The long, 
dreary day passed. My shadow lay black on the floor. I 



250 PHANTASTES : 

felt no hunger, no need of food. The night came. The 
moon shone. I watched her light slowly descending the 
wall, as I might have watched, adown the sky, the long, 
swift approach of a helping angel. Her rays touched me, and 
I was free. Thus night after night passed away. I should 
have died but for this. Every night the conviction returned 
that I was free. Every morning I sat wretchedly disconso- 
late. At length, when the course of the moon no longer 
permitted her beams to touch me, the night was dreary as 
the day. When I slept, I was somewhat consoled by my 
dreams ; but all the time I dreamed, I knew that I was 
only dreaming. But one night, at length, the moon, a 
mere shred of pallor, scattered a few, thin, ghostly rays 
upon me ; and I think I fell asleep and dreamed. I sat in 
an autumn night, before the vintage, on a hill overlooking 
my own castle. My heart sprang with joy. Oh, to be a 
child again, innocent, fearless, without shame or desire ! I 
walked down to the castle. All were in consternation at 
my absence. My sisters were weeping for my loss. They 
sprang up and clung to me, with incoherent cries, as I en- 
tered. My old friends came flocking round me. A gray 
light shone on the roof of the hall. It was the light of the 
dawn shining through the square window of my tower. 
More earnestly than ever, I longed for freedom after this 
dream ; more drearily than ever, crept on the next wretched 
day. I measured by the sunbeams, caught through the 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 251 

little window in the trap of my tower, how it went by, 
waiting only for the dreams of the night. 

About noon, I started, as if something foreign to all my 
senses and all my experience, had suddenly invaded me ; 
yet it was only the voice of a woman singing. My whole 
frame quivered with joy, surprise, and the sensation of the 
unforeseen. Like a living soul, like an incarnation of 
Nature, the song entered my prison-house. Each tone 
folded its wings, and laid itself, like a caressing bird, upon 
my heart. It bathed me like a sea ; inwrapt me like an 
odorous vapor; entered my soul like a long draught of 
clear spring- water ; shone upon me like essential sunlight ; 
soothed me like a mother's voice and hand. Yet, as the 
clearest forest well tastes sometimes of the bitterness of de- 
cayed leaves, so to my weary, prisoned heart its cheerful- 
ness had a sting of cold, and its tenderness unmanned me 
with the faintness of long-departed joys. I wept, half-bit- 
terly, half-luxuriously ; but not long. I dashed away the 
tears, ashamed of a weakness which I thought I had aban- 
doned. Ere I knew, I had walked to the door, and seated 
myself with my ear against it, in order to catch every 
syllable of the revelation from the unseen outer world. 
And now I heard each word distinctly. The singer seemed 
to be standing or sitting near the tower, for the sounds in- 
dicated no change of place. The song was something like 
this : — 



252 PHANTASTES : 

" The sun, like a golden knot on high, 
Gathers the glories of the sky, 
And binds them into a shining tent, 
Hoofing the world with the firmament. 
And through the pavilion the rich winds blow. 
And through the pavilion the waters go. 
And the birds for joy, and the trees for prayer, 
Bowing their heads in the sunny air, 
And for thoughts, the gently talking springs, 
That come from the centre with secret things, 
All make a music, gentle and strong. 
Bound by the heart into one sweet song. 
And amidst them all, the mother Earth 
Sits with the children of her birth ; 
She tendeth them all, as a mother hen 
Her little ones round her, twelve or ten : 
Oft she sitteth, with hands on knee, 
Idle with love for her family. 
Go forth to her from the dark and the dust, 
And weep beside her, if weep thou must ; 
If she may not hold thee to her breast. 
Like a weary infant that cries for rest ; 
At least she will press thee to her knee, 
And tell a low, sweet tale to thee, 
Tiil the hue to thy cheek, and the light to thine eye, 
Strength to thy limbs, and courage high 
To thy fainting heart, return amain. 
And away to work thou goest again. 
From the narrow desert, O man of pride. 
Come into the house, so high and wide." 

Hardly knowing what I did, I opened the door. Why had 
I not done so before ? I do not know. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 253 

At first I could see no one ; but when I had forced my- 
self past the tree which grew across the entrance, I saw, 
seated on the ground, and leaning against the tree, with 
her back to my prison, a beautiful woman. Her counte- 
nance seemed known to me, and yet unknown. She looked 
up at me and smiled when I made my appearance, 

" Ah! were you the prisoner there ? I am very glad I 
have wiled you out." 

" Do you know me then? " 

" Do you not know me? But you hurt me, and that, I 
suppose, makes it easy for a man to forget. You broke 
my globe. Yet I thank you. Perhaps I owe you many 
thanks for breaking it. I took the pieces, all black, and 
wet with crying over them, to the Fairy Queen. There 
was no music and no light in them now. But she took 
them from me, and laid them aside ; and made me go to 
sleep in a great hall of white, with black pillars, and many 
red curtains. When I woke in the morning, I went to her, 
hoping to have my globe again, whole and sound ; but she 
sent me away without it, and I have not seen it since. 
Nor do I care for it now. I have something so much 
better. I do not need the globe to play to me; for I can 
sing. I could not sing at all 'before. Now I go about 
everywhere through Fairy-land, singing till my heart is 
like to break, just like my globe, for very joy at my own 
songs. And wherever I go, my songs do good and deliver 



254 PHANTASTES : 

people. And now I have delivered you, and I am so 
happy." 

She ceased, and the tears came into her eyes. 

All this time, I had been gazing at her, and now fully 
recognized the face of the child, glorified in the counte- 
nance of the woman. I was ashamed and humbled before 
her ; but a great weight was lifted from my thoughts. I 
knelt before her, and thanked her, and begged her to for- 
give me. 

• 'Eise, rise," she said; "I have nothing to forgive ; I 
thank you. But now I must be gone, for I do not know 
Jiow many may be waiting for me, here and there, through 
the dark forests; and they cannot come out till I come." 

She rose, and with a smile and a farewell turned and 
left me. I dared not ask her to stay ; in" fact, I could 
hardly speak to her. Between her and me there was a 
great gulf. She was uplifted, by sorrow and well-doing, 
into a region I could hardly hope ever to enter. I 
watched ' her departure as one watches a sunset. She went 
like a radiance through the dark wood, which was hence- 
forth bright to me, from simply knowing that such a creature 
was in it. She was bearing the sun to the unsunned spots. 
The light and the music of her broken globe were now in 
her heart and her brain. As she went, she sang, and I 
caught these few words of her song ; and the tones seemed 
to linger and wind about the trees after she had dis- 
appeared : — 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 255 

" Thou goest thine, .and I go mine, — 
Many ways we wend ; 
Many days, and many ways, 
Ending in one end. 

" Many a wrong, and its curing song; 
Many a road, and many an inn ; 
Room to roam, hut only one home 
For all the world to win." 

And SO she vanished. With a sad heart, soothed by 
humility and the knowledge of her peace and gladness, I 
bethought me what now I should do. First, I must leave 
the tower far behind me, lest, in some evil moment, I might 
be once more caged within its horrible walls. But it was 
ill walking in my heavy armor ; and, besides, I had now no 
right to the golden spurs and the resplendent mail, fitly 
dulled with long neglect. I might do for a squire ; but I 
honored knighthood too highly to call myself any longer 
one of the noble brotherhood. I stripped off all my armor, 
piled it under the tree, just where the lady had been seated, 
and took my unknown way, eastward through the woods. 
Of all my weapons, I carried only a short axe in my hand. 
Then first I knew the delight of being lowly ; of saying to 
myself, "I am what I am, nothing more. "I have 
failed," I said; "I have lost myself — would it had been 
my shadow ! " I looked round ; the shadow was nowhere 
to be seen. Ere long I learned that it was not myself, 
but only my shadow, that I had lost. I learned that it is 



256 PHANTASIES : 

better, a thousand-fold, for a proud man to fall and be 
humbled, than to hold up his head in his pride and fancied 
innocence. I learned that he that "will be a hero will barely 
be a man ; that he that will be nothing but a doer of his 
work is sure of his manhood. In nothing was my ideal 
lowered, or dimmed, or grown less precious ; I only saw 
it too plainly, to set myself for a moment beside it. Indeed, 
my ideal soon became my life ; whereas, formerly, my life 
had consisted in a vain attempt to behold, if not my ideal 
in myself, at least myself in my ideal. Now, however, I 
took, at first, what perhaps was a mistaken pleasure, in 
despising and degrading myself Another self seemed to 
arise, like a white spirit from a dead man, from the dumb 
and trampled self of the past. Doubtless this self must 
again die and be buried, and again, from its tomb, spring 
a winged child : but of this my history as yet bears not the 
record. Self will come to life even in the slaying of self; 
but there is ever something deeper and stronger than it, 
which will emerge at last from the unknown abysses of the 
soul : will it be as a solemn gloom, burning with eyes ? or a 
clear morning after the rain ? or a smiling child, that finds 
itself nowhere, and everywhere ? 

13 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 257 



XXIII, 

High erected thought, seated in a heart of courtesy. 

Sir Philip Sidney. 



A sweet, attractive kinde of grace, 
A full assurance given by lookes, 

Continuall comfort in a face, 

The lineaments of Gospell bookes. 

Spenser, on Sir Philip Sidney. 

I HAD not gone far, for I had but just lost sight of the 
hated tower, when a voice of another sort, sounding near or 
far, as the trees permitted or intercepted its passage, reached 
me. It was a full, deep, manlj voice, but withal clear and 
melodious. Now it burst on the ear with a sudden swell, 
and anon, dying away as suddenly, seemed to come to me 
across a great space. Nevertheless, it drew nearer ; till at 
last I could distinguish the words of the song, and get tran- 
sient glimpses of the singer between the columns of the 
trees. He came nearer, dawning upon me like a growing 
thought. He was a knight, armed from head to heel, 
mounted upon a strange-looking beast, whose form I could 
not understand. The words which I heard him sing were 

like these :— 
17 



268 PHANTASTES: 

" Heart be stout, 
And eye be true ; 
Good blade out ! 
And ill shall rue. 

" Courage, horse ! 

Thou lack'st no skill ; 
Well thy force 

Hath matched my will, 

" For the foe, 

With fiery breath, 
At a blow. 
Is still in death. 

" Gently, horse ! 
Tread fearlessly ; 
'Tis his corse 
That burdens thee. 

" The sun's eye 

Is fierce at noon; 
Thou and I 
Will rest full soon. 

" And new strength 

New work will meet ; 
Till, at length. 
Long rest is sweet. " 

And now horse and rider had arrived near enough for 
me to see, fastened by the long neck to the hinder part of 
the saddle, and trailing its hideous length on the ground 
behind, the body of a great dragon. It was no wonder 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 259 

that, with such a drag at his heels, the horse could make 
but slow progress, notwithstanding his evident dismay. 
The horrid, serpent-like head, with its black tongue, forked 
with red, hanging out of its jaws, dangled against the 
horse's side. Its neck was covered with long blue hair; 
its sides with scales of green and gold. Its back was of 
corrugated skin, of a purple hue. Its belly was similar in 
nature, but its color was leaden, dashed with blotches of 
livid blue. Its skinny, bat-like wings and its tail were of a 
dull gray. It was strange to see how so many gorgeous 
colors, so many curving lines, and such beautiful things as 
wings and hair and scales, combined to form the horrible 
creature, intense in ugliness. 

The knight was passing me with a salutation ; but, as I 
walked towards him, he reined up, and I stood by his stir- 
rup. When I came near him, I saw, to my surprise and 
pleasure likewise, although a sudden pain, like a birth of 
fire, sprang up in my heart, that it was the knight of the 
soiled armor, whom I knew before, and whom I had seen 
in the vision with the lady of the marble. But I could 
have thrown my arms around him, because she loved him. 
This discovery only strengthened the resolution I had 
formed, before I recognized him, of offering myself to the 
knight, to wait upon him as a squire, for he seemed to be 
unattended. I made my request in as few words as pos- 
sible. He hesitated for a moment, and looked at me 
thoughtfully. I saw that he suspected who I was, but that 



260 phantasies: 

he continued uncertain of his suspicion. No doubt he was 
soon convinced of its truth ; but all the time I was with 
him not a word crossed his lips with reference to what he 
evidently concluded I wished to leave unnoticed, if not to 
keep concealed. 

" Squire and knight should be friends," said he; "can 
you take me by the hand? " And he held out the great, 
gauntleted right hand. I grasped it willingly and strongly. 
Not a word more was said. The knight gave the sign to 
his horse, which again began his slow march, and I walked 
beside and a little behind. 

We had not gone very far before we arrived at a little 
cottage ; from which, as we drew near, a woman rushed out 
with the cry : — 

" My child ! my child ! have you found my child ? " 

" I have found her," replied the knight; "but she is 
sorely hurt. I was forced to leave her with the hermit, as 
I returned. You will find her there, and I think she will 
get better. You see I have brought you a present. This 
wretch will not hurt you again." And he undid the crea- 
ture's neck, and flung the frightful burden down by the 
cottage door. 

The woman was now almost out of sight in the wood ; 
but the husband stood at the door with speechless thanks 
in his face. 

"You must bury the monster," said the knight. "If 
I had arrived a moment later, I should have been too late. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 261 

But now you need not fear, for such a creature as this very 
rarely appears, in the same part, twice during a lifetime." 

"Will you not dismount and rest you. Sir Knight?" 
said the peasant, who had, by this time, recovered himself 
a little. 

"That I will, thankfully," said he; and, dismounting, 
he gave the reins to me, and told me to unbridle the horse 
and lead him into the shade. " You need not tie him up," 
he added ; "he will not run away." 

When I returned, after obeying his orders, and entered the 
cottage, I saw the knight seated, without his helmet, and 
talking most familiarly with the simple host. I stood at 
the open door for a moment, and, gazing at him, inwardly 
justified the white lady in preferring him to me. A nobler 
countenance I never saw. Loving-kindness beamed from 
every line of his face. It seemed as if he would repay 
himself for the late arduous combat by indulging in all the 
gentleness of a womanly heart. But when the talk ceased 
for a moment, he seemed to fall into a reverie. Then the 
exquisite curves of the upper lip vanished. The lip was 
lengthened and compressed at the same moment. You 
could have told that, within the lips, the teeth were firmly 
closed. The whole face grew stern and determined, all 
but fierce ; only the eyes burned on like a holy sacrifice, 
uplift on a granite rock. 

The woman entered, with her mangled child in her arms. 
She was pale as her little burden. She gazed, with a wild 



262 PHANTASIES: 

love and despairing tenderness, on the still, all but dead 
face, wliite and clear from loss of blood and terror. 

The knicrht rose. The light that had been confined to 
his eyes now shone from his whole countenance. He took 
the little thing in his arms, and, with the mother's help, 
undressed her, and looked to her wounds. The tears flowed 
down his face as he did so. With tender hands he bound 
them up, kissed the pale cheek, and gave her back to her 
mother. When he went home, all his tale would be of the 
grief and joj of the parents ; while to me, who had looked 
on, the gracious countenance of the armed man, beaming 
from the panoplj of steel, over the seemingly dead child, 
while the powerful hands turned it and shifted it, and 
bound it, if possible even more gently than the mother's, 
formed the centre of the story. 

After we had partaken of the best they could give us, 
the knight took his leave, with a few parting instructions 
to the mother, as to how she should treat the child. 

I brought the knight his steel, held the stirrup while he 
mounted, and then followed him through the wood. The 
horse, delighted to be fi'ee of his hideous load, bounded be- 
neath the weight of man and armor, and could hardly be 
restrained from galloping on. But the knight made him 
time his powers to mine, and so we went on for an hour or 
two. Then the knight dismounted, and compelled me to 
get into the saddle, saying, ' ' Knight and squire must share 
the labor." 



A FAEKIB ROMANCE. 263 

Holding hy the stirrup, he walked along by my side, 
heavily clad as he "was, with apparent ease. As we went, 
he led a conversation, in which I took what humble part 
my sense of my condition would permit me. 

"Somehow or other," said he, "notwithstanding the 
beauty of this country of Faerie, in which we are, there is 
much that is wrong in it. If there are great splendors, 
there are corresponding horrors ; heights and depths ; 
beautiful women and awful fiends ; noble men and weak- 
lings. All a man has to do, is to better what he can. 
And if he will settle it with himself that even renown and 
success are in themselves of no great value, and be content 
to be defeated, if so be that the fault is not his, and so go 
to his work with a cool brain and a strong will, he will get 
it done ; and fare none the worse in the end, that he was 
not burdened with provision and precaution." 

" But he will not always come off well," I ventured to 
say. 

" Perhaps not," rejoined the knight, " in the individual 
act ; but the result of his lifetime will content him." 

" So it will fare with you, doubtless," thought I; " but 
for me — " 

Venturing to resume the conversation after a pause, I 
said, hesitatingly : — 

" May I ask for what the little beggar-girl wanted your 
aid when she came to your castle to find you ? " 



264 PHANTASTES : 

He looked at me for a moment in silence, and then 
said : — 

"I cannot help wondering how you know of that; but 
there is something about you quite strange enough to en- 
title you to the privilege of the country, — namely, to go un- 
questioned. I, however, being only a man, such as you 
see me, am ready to tell you anything you like to ask me, 
as far as I can. The little beggar-girl came into the hall 
where I was sitting, and told me a very curious story, 
which I can only recollect very vaguely, it was so peculiar. 
What I can recall is, that she was sent to gather wings. 
As soon as she had gathered a pair of wings for herself, she 
was to fly away, she said, to the country she came from ; 
but where that was she could give no information. She 
said she had to beg her wings from the butterflies and 
moths ; and whenever she begged, no one refused her. 
But she needed a great many of the wings of butterflies 
and moths to make a pair for her ; and so she had to 
wander about day after day, looking for butterflies, and 
night after night, looking for moths ; and then she begged 
for their wings. But the day before, she had come into a 
part of the forest, she said, where there were multitudes of 
splendid butterflies flitting about, with wings which were 
just fit to make the eyes in the shoulders of hers ; and she 
knew she could have as many of them as she liked for the 
asking ; but as soon as she began to beg, there came a 
great creature right up to her, and threw her down, and 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 265 

walked over her. When she got up, she saw the wood was 
full of these beings stalking about, and seeming to have 
nothing to do with each other. As soon as ever she began 
to beg, one of them walked over her ; till at last, in dis- 
may, and in growing horror of the senseless creatures, she 
had run away to look for somebody to help her. I asked 
her what they were like. She said, like great men, made 
of wood, without knee or elbow joints, and without any 
noses or mouths or eyes in their faces. I laughed at the 
little maiden, thinking she was making child's game of me; 
but, although she burst out laughing too, she persisted in 
asserting the truth of her story. 

"'Only come, knight, come and see; I will lead 
you.' 

"So I armed myself, to be ready for anything that 
might happen, and followed the child ; for, though I could 
make nothing of her story, I could see she was a little 
human being in need of some help or other. As she 
walked before me, I looked attentively -at her. Whether 
or not it was from being so often knocked down and 
walked over, I could not tell, but her clothes were very 
much torn, and in several places her white skin was peep- 
ing through. I thought she was humpbacked ; but on 
looking more closely, I saw, through the tatters of her 
frock, — do not laugh at me, — a bunch on each shoulder, 
of the most gorgeous colors. Looking yet more closely, 
I saw that they were of the shape of folded wings, and were 



266 PHANTASTES: 

made of all kinds of butterflj-wings and moth-wings, 
crowded too;ether like the feathers on the individual butter- 
fly pinion ; but, like them, most beautifully arranged, and 
producing a perfect harmony of color and shade. I could 
now more easily believe the rest of her story ; especially as 
I saw, every now and then, a certain heaving motion in the 
wings, as if they longed to be uplifted and outspread. But 
beneath her scanty garments complete wings could not be 
concealed, and, indeed, from her own story, they were yet 
unfinished. 

" After walking for two or three hours (how the little 
girl found her way, I could not imagine), we came to a part 
of the forest, the very air of which was quivering with the 
motions of multitudes of resplendent butterflies, as gor- 
geous in color, as if the eyes of peacocks' feathers had taken 
to flight, but of infinite variety of hue and form, only that 
the appearance of some kind of eye on each wing predomi- 
nated. ' There they are ! there they are ! ' cried the child, 
in a tone of victory mingled with terror. Except for this 
tone, I should have thought she referred to the butterflies, 
for I could see nothing else. But at that moment an 
enormous butterfly, whose wings had great eyes of blue 
surrounded by confused cloudy heaps of more dingy color- 
ing, just like a break in the clouds on a stormy day 
towards evening, settled near us. The child instantly be- 
gan murmuring, ' Butterfly, butterfly, ' give me your 
wings ; ' when, the moment after, she fell to the ground, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 267 

and began crying as if hurt. I drew my sword and heaved 
a great blow in the direction in which the child had fallen. 
It struck something, and instantly the most grotesque im- 
itation of a man became visible. You see, this Fairy-land 
is full of oddities and all sorts of incredibly ridiculous 
things, which a man is compelled to meet and treat as real 
existences, although all the time he feels foolish for doing 
so. This being, if being it could be called, was like a 
block of wood roughly hewn into the mere outlines of a 
man ; and hardly so, for it had but head, body, legs, and 
arms, — the head without a face, and the limbs utterly 
formless. I had hewn off one of its legs, but the two por- 
tions moved on as best they could, quite independent of 
each other ; so that I had done no good. I ran after it, 
and clove it in twain from the head downwards ; but it 
could not be convinced that its vocation was not to walk 
over people ; for, as soon as the little girl began her beg- 
ging again, all three parts came bustling up ; and, if I had 
not interposed my weight between her and them, she would 
have been trampled again under them. I saw that some- 
thing else must be done. If the wood was full of the 
creatures, it would be an endless work to chop them so 
small that they could do no injury ; and then, beside, the 
parts would be so numerous, that the butterflies would be 
in danger from the drift of flying chips. I served this one, 
so, however ; and then told the girl to beg again, and point 
but the direction in which one was coming. I was glad to 



268 PHANTASTES : 

find, however, that I could now see him myself, and won- 
dered how they could have been invisible before. I would 
not allow him to walk over the child ; but while I kept him 
off, and she began begging again, another appeared ; and it 
was all I could do, from the weight of my armor, to pro- 
tect her from the stupid, persevering efforts of the two. 
But suddenly the right plan occurred to me. I tripped one 
of them up, and, taking him by the legs, set him up on his 
head, with his heels against a tree. I was delighted to 
find he could not move. Meantime the poor child was 
walked over by the other, but it was for the last time. 
Whenever one appeared, I followed the same plan, — 
tripped him up and set him on his head ; and so the little 
beggar was able to gather her wings without any trouble, 
which occupation she continued for several hours in my 
company." 

" What became of her? " I asked. 

"I took her home with me to my castle, and she told 
me all her story ; but it seemed to me, all the time, as if I 
were hearing a child talk in its sleep. I could not arrange 
her story in my mind at all, although it seemed to leave 
hers in some certain order of its own. My wife — " 

Here the knight checked himself, and said no more. 
Neither did I urge the conversation farther. 

Thus we journeyed for several days, resting at night in 
such shelter as we could get, and when no better was to 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 269 

be had, lying in the forest under some tree, on a couch of 
old leaves. . 

I loved the knight more and more. I believe never 
squire served his master with more care and joyfulness than 
I. I tended his horse ; I cleaned his armor ; my skill in 
the craft enabled me to repair it when necessary ; I watched 
his needs ; and was well repaid for all, by the love itself 
which I bore him. 

"This," I said to myself, "is a true man. I will 
serve him, and give him all worship, seeing in him the em- 
bodiment of what I would fain become. If I cannot bo 
noble myself, -I will yet be servant to his nobleness." He, 
in return, soon showed me such signs of friendship and 
respect as made my heart glad ; and I felt that, after all, 
mine would be no lost life, if I might wait on him to the 
world's end, although no smile but his should greet me, and 
no one but him should say, " Well done ! he was a good 
servant ! " at last. But I burned to do something more 
for him than the ordinary routine of a squire's duty per- 
mitted. 

One afternoon we began to observe an appearance of 
roads in the wood. Branches had been cut down, and 
openings made, where footsteps had worn no path below. 
These indications increased as we passed on ; till, at length, 
we came into a long, narrow avenue, formed by felling the 
trees in its line, as the remaining roots evidenced. At 
some little distance, on both hands, we observed signs of 



270 PHANTASTES : 

similar avenues, which appeared to converge with ours 
towards one spot. Along these we indistinctly .saw several 
forms moving, which seemed, with ourselves, to approach 
the common centre. Our path brought us, at last, up to 
a wall of yew-trees, growing close together, and intertwin- 
ing their branches so that nothing could be seen beyond 
it. An opening was cut in it like a door, and all the wall 
was trimmed smooth and perpendicular. The knight dis- 
mounted, and waited till I had provided for his horse's 
comfort ; upon which we entered the place together. 

It was a great space, bare of trees, and enclosed by four 
walls of yew, similar to that through which we had entered. 
These trees grew to a very great height, and did not divide 
from each other till close to the top, where their summits 
formed a row of conical battlements all around the walls. 
The space contained was a parallelogram of great length. 
Along each of the two longer sides of the interior were 
ranged three ranks of men, in white robes, standing silent 
and solemn, each with a sword by his side, although the 
rest of his costume and bearing was more priestly than 
soldierly. For some distance inwards the space between 
these opposite rows was filled with a company of men and 
women and children, in holiday attire. The looks of all 
were directed inwards, towards the further end. Far be- 
yond the crowd, in a long avenue, seeming to narrow in 
the distance, went the Ions; rows of the wliite-robed men. 
On what the attention of the multitude was fixed, we 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 271 

could not tell, for the sun had set before we arrived, and 
it was growing dark within. It grew darker and darker. 
The multitude waited in silence. The stars began to shine 
down into the enclosure, and they grew brighter and 
larger every moment. A wind arose, and swayed the 
pinnacles of the tree-tops, and made a strange sound, half 
like music, half like moaning, through the close branches 
and leaves of the tree-walls. A young girl who stood be- 
side me, clothed in the same dress as the priests, bowed her 
head, and grew pale with awe. 

The knight whispered to me, " How solemn it is ! 
Surely they wait to hear the voice of a prophet. There is 
something good near ! " 

But I, though somewhat shaken by the feeling expressed 
by my master, yet had an unaccountable conviction that 
here was something bad. So I resolved to be keenly on the 
watch for what should follow. 

Suddenly a great star, like a sun, appeared high in the 
air over the temple, illuminating it throughout ; and a great 
song arose from the men in white, which went rolling round 
and round the building, now receding to the end, and now 
approaching, down the other side, the place where we stood. 
For some of the singers were regularly ceasing, and the 
next to them as regularly taking up the song ; so that it 
crept onwards, with gradations produced by changes Avhich 
could not themselves be detected, for only a few of those 
who were singing ceased at the same moment. The song 



272 PHANTASIES : 

paused ; and I saw a company of six of the white-robed men 
•walk up the centre of the human avenue, surrounding a 
youth gorgeously attired beneath his robe of white, and 
wearing a chaplet of flowers on his head. I followed them 
closely, with my keenest observation ; and, by accompany- 
ing their slow progress with my eyes, I was able to per- 
ceive more clearly what took place when they arrived at 
the other end. I knew that my sight was so much more 
keen than that of most people, that I had good reason to 
suppose I should see more than the rest could at such a 
distance. At the farther end, a throne stood upon a plat- 
form, high above the heads of the surrounding priests. To 
this platform I saw the company begin to ascend, apparently 
by an inclined plane of gentle slope. The throne itself 
was elevated again, on a kind of square pedestal, to the top 
of which led a flight of steps. On the throne sat a majestic- 
looking figure, whose posture seemed to indicate a mixture 
of pride and benignity as he looked down on the multitude 
below. The company ascended to the foot of the throne, 
where they all kneeled for -some minutes; then they rose 
and passed round to the side of the pedestal upon which the 
throne stood. Here they crowded close behind the youth, 
putting him in the foremost place ; and one of them opened 
a door in the pedestal, for the youth to enter. I was sure 
I saw him shrink back, and those crowding behind push 
him in. Then again arose a burst of song from the multi- 
tude in white, which lasted some time. When it ceased, a 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 273 

new companj of seven commenced its march up the centre. 
As they advanced, I looked up at my master ; his noble 
countenance was full of reverence and awe. Incapable of 
evil himself, he could scarcely suspect it in another, much 
less in a multitude such as this, and surrounded with such 
appearances of solemnity. I was certain it was the 
really grand accompaniments that overcame him ; that the 
stars overhead, the dark, towering tops of the yew-trees, 
and the wind that, like an unseen spirit, sighed through 
their branches, bowed his spirit to the belief that in all 
these ceremonies lay some great mystical meaning, which, 
his humility told him, his ignorance prevented him from 
understanding. 

More convinced than before that there was evil here, I 
could not endure that my master should be deceived; that 
one like him, so pure and noble, should respect what, if 
my suspicions were true, was worse than the ordinary de- 
ceptions of priestcraft. I could not tell how far he migh t 
be led to countenance and otherwise support their doings, 
before he should find cause to repent bitterly of his error. 
I watched the new procession yet more keenly, if possible, 
than the former. This time the central figure was a girl, 
and at the close I observed, yet more indubitably, the 
shrinking back, and the crowding push. What happened 
to the victims I never learned; but I had learned enough, 
and I could bear it no longer. I stooped and whispered to 
the young girl who stood by me, to lend me her white gar- 



274 PHANTASIES: 

merit. I wanted it, that I might not be entirely out of 
keeping with the solemnity, but might have at least this 
help to passing unquestioned. She looked up, half amused 
and half bewildered, as if doubting whether I was in earnest 
or not. But in her perplexity she permitted me to un- 
fasten it and slip it down from her shoulders. I easily got 
possession of it; and, sinking down on my knees in the 
crowd, I rose apparently in the habit of one of the wor- 
shippers. 

Giving my battle-axe to the girl, to hold in pledge for 
the return of her stole, — for I wished to test the matter un- 
armed, and, if it was a man that sat upon the throne, to 
attack him with hands bare, as I supposed his must be, — I 
made my way through the crowd to the front, while the 
singing yet continued, desirous of reaching the platform 
while it was unoccupied by any of the priests. I was per- 
mitted to walk up the long avenue of white robes unmo- 
lested, though I saw questioning looks in many of the faces 
as I passed. I presume my coolness aided my passage ; 
for I felt quite mdifferent as to my own fate ; ' not feeling, 
after the late events of my history, that I was at all worth 
taking care of, and enjoying, perhaps, something of an 
evil satisfaction in the revenge I was thus taking upon the 
self which had fooled me so long. When I arrived on the 
platform the song had just ceased, and I felt as if all were 
looking towards me. But, instead of kneeling at its foot, I 
walked right up the stairs to the throne, laid hold of a 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 275 

great wooden image that seemed to sit upon it, and tried 
to hurl it from its seat. In this I failed at first, for I 
found it firmly fixed. But in dread lest, the first shock of 
amazement passing away, the guards would rush upon me 
before I had efiected my purpose. I strained with all my 
might ; and, with a noise as of the cracking, and breaking, 
and tearing of rotten wood, something gave way. and I 
hurled the image down the steps. Its displacement re- 
vealed a great hole in the throne, like the hollow of a 
decayed tree, going down apparently a great way. But T 
had no time to examine it, for, as I looked into it, up out 
of it rushed a great brute, like a wolf, but twice the size, 
and tumbled me headlong with itself down the steps of the 
throne. As we fell, however, I caught it by the throat, 
and the moment we reached the platform a struggle com- 
menced, in which I soon got uppermost, with my hand upon 
its throat, and knee upon its heart. But now arose a wild 
cry of wrath and revenge and rescue. A universal hiss 
of steel, as every sword was swept from its scabbard, seemed 
to tear the very air in shreds. I heard the rush of hun- 
dreds towards the platform on which I knelt. I only 
tightened my grasp of the brute's throat. His eyes were 
already starting from his head, and his tongue was hanging 
out. My anxious hope was, that, even after they had 
killed me, they would be unable to undo my gripe of his 
throat before the monster was past breathing. I therefore 



276 PHANTASTES : 

threw all my will and force and purpose into the grasping 
hand. I remember no blow. A faintness came over me, 
and my consciousness departed. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 277 



XXIY. 

We are ne'er like angels till our p sions die. 

Deckar. 

This wretched Inn, -where we scarce stay to bait, 

We call our Dwelling-Place : 
We call one Step a Race : 
But angels in their full enlightened state, 
Angels, who Live, and know what 'tis to Be, 
Who all the nonsense of our language see, 

Who speak things, and our words, their ill-drawn pictures, scorn, 
When we, by a foolish figure, say, 
Behold an old man dead ! then they 
Speak properly, and cry. Behold a man-child horn ! 

Cowley. 

I WAS dead, and right content. I lay in my coffin, with 
my hands folded in peace. The knight and the lady I 
loved wept over me. Her tears fell on my face. 

" Ah ! " said the knio;ht, " I rushed amono;st them like a 
madman. I hewed them down like brushwood. Their 
swords battered on me like hail, but hurt me not. I cut a 
lane through to my friend. He was dead. But he had 
throttled the monster, and I had to cut the handful out of 
its throat before I could disengage and carry ofi" his body. 
They dared not molest me as I brought him back." 

" He has died well," said the lady. 



278 PHANTASIES : 

My spirit rejoiced. They left me to my repose. I felt 
as if a coo] hand had been laid upon my heart, and had 
stilled it. My soul was like a summer evening, after a 
heavy fall of rain, when the drops are yet glistening on the 
trees in the last rays of the down-going sun, and the wind 
of the twilight has begun to blow. The hot fever of life 
had gone by, and I breathed the clear mountain-air of the 
land of Death. I had never dreamed of such blessedness. 
It was not that I had in any way ceased to be what I had 
been. The very fact that anything can die implies the 
existence of something that cannot die, which must either 
take to itself another form, as when the seed that is sown 
dies and arises again, or, in conscious existence, may, 
perhaps, continue to lead a purely spiritual life. If my 
passions were dead, the souls of the passions, those essential 
mysteries of the spirit which had embodied themselves in the 
passions, and had given to them all their glory and wonder- 
ment, yet lived, yet glowed, with a pure, undying fire. 
They rose above their vanishing earthly garments, and dis- 
closed themselves angels of light. But, oh, how beautiful 
beyond the old form ! I lay thus for a time, and lived as 
it were an unradiating existence ; my soul a motionless lake, 
that received all things and gave nothing back ; satisfied 
in still contemplation and spiritual consciousness. 

Ere long they bore me to my grave. Never tired child 
lay down in his white bed, and heard the sound of his play- 
things being laid aside for the night, with a more luxurious 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 279 

satisfaction of repose than I knew when I felt the coffin 
settle on the firm earth, and heard the sound of the falling 
mould upon its lid. It has not the same hollow rattle 
within the coffin that it sends up to the edge of the grave. 
Thej buried me in no graveyard. They loved me too 
much for that, I thank them; but they laid me in the 
grounds of their own castle, amid many trees ; where, as it 
was spring-time, were growing primroses, and blue-bells, 
and all the families of the woods. 

Now that I lay in her bosom, the whole earth, and each 
of her many births, was as a body to me, at my will. I 
seemed to feel the great heart of the mother beating into 
mine, and feeding me with her own life, her own essential 
being and nature. I heard the footsteps of my friends 
above, and they sent a thrill through my heart, I knew 
that the helpers had gone, and that the knight and the lady 
remained, and spoke low, gentle, tearful words of him who 
lay beneath the yet wounded sod. I rose into a single 
large primrose that grew by the edge of the grave, and from 
the window of its humble, trusting face looked full in the 
countenance of the lady. I felt that I could manifest my- 
self in the primrose ; that it said a part of what I wanted 
to say ; just as in the old time I had used to betake my- 
self to a song for the same end. The flower caught her 
eye. She stooped and plucked it, saying, " you 
beautiful creature ! " and, lightly kissing it, put ib in her 



280 PHANTASTES: 

bosom. It was the first kiss she had ever given me. But 
the flower soon began to wither, and I forsook it. 

It was evening. The sun was below the horizon ; but 
his rosy beams yet illuminated a feathery cloud that floated 
high above the world. I arose. I reached the cloud ; and, 
throwing myself upon it, floated with it in sight of the sink- 
ing sun. He sank, and the cloud grew gray; but the 
grayness touched not my heart. It carried its rose-hue 
within ; for now I could love without needing to be loved 
again. The moon came gliding up with all the past in her 
wan face. She changed my couch into a ghostly pallor, 
and threw all the earth below as to the bottom of a pale sea 
of dreams. But she could not make me sad. I knew now, 
that it is by loving, and not by being loved, that one can 
come nearest the soul of another ; yea, that, where two 
love, it is the loving of each other, and not the being be- 
loved by each other, that originates and perfects and assures 
their blessedness. I knew that love gives to him that 
loveth, power over any soul beloved, even if that soul know 
him not, bringing him inwardly close to that spirit, -^ a 
power that cannot be but for good ; for, in proportion as 
selfishness intrudes, the love ceases, and the power which 
springs therefrom dies. Yet all love will, one day, meet 
with its return. All true love will, one day, behold its own 
image in the eyes of the beloved, and be humbly glad. 
This is possible in the realms of lofty Death. "Ah, my 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 281 

friends," thought I, " how I will tend you, and wait upon 
you, and haunt you with my love ! " 

My floating chariot bore me over a great city. Its faint, 
dull sound steamed up into the air, — a sound — how com- 
posed ? "How many hopeless cries," thought I, "and 
how many mad shouts go to make up the tumult, here so 
faint where I float in eternal peace, knowing that they will 
one day be stilled in the surrounding calm, and that 
despair dies into infinite hope, and that the seeming im- 
possible there is the law here ! But, pale-faced 
women, and gloomy-browed men, and forgotten children, 
how I will wait on you, and, putting my arms about you 
in the dark, think hope unto your hearts, when you fancy 
no one is near ! Soon as my senses have all come back, 
and have grown acoustomed to this new blessed life, I will 
be among you, with the love that healeth." 

With this, a pang and a terrible shudder went through 
me ; a writhing as of death convulsed me, and I became 
once again conscious of a more limited, even a bodily and 
earthly life. 



282 PHANTASIES : 



XXY. 

Unser Leben ist kein Traum, aber es soil und wird vielleicht einer 
werden. Novalis. 

Our life is no dream ; but it ought to become one, and perhaps 
wiU. 



And on the ground, which is my modres gate, 
I knocke with my staf, erlich and late. 
And say to hire, Leve mother, let me in. 

Chaucee. — The Pardoneres Tale. 

Sinking from such a state of ideal bliss into the world 
of shadows which again closed around and enfolded me, my 
first dread was, not unnaturally, that my own shadow had 
found me again, and that my torture had commenced anew. 
It was a sad revulsion of feeling. This, indeed, seemed to 
correspond to what we think death is, before we die. Yet I 
felt within me a power of calm endurance to which I had 
hitherto been a stranger. For, in truth, that I should be 
able if only to think such things as I had been thinking, 
was an unspeakable delight. An hour of such peace made 
the turmoil of a lifetime worth strivingr through. 

I found myself lying in the open air, in the early morn- 
ing, before sunrise. Over me rose the summer heaven, 



A FAERIE ROMANCE, 283 

expectant of the sun. The clouds already saw him coming 
from aiar, and soon every dewdrop would rejoice in his 
individual presence within it. I lay motionless for a few 
minutes, and then slowly rose and looked about me. I 
was on the summit of a little hill ; a valley lay beneath, 
and a range of mountains closed up the view upon that 
side. But, to my horror, across the valley, and up the 
height of the opposing mountains, stretched, from my very 
feet, a hugely expanding shade. There it lay, long and 
large, dark and mighty. I turned away with a sick de- 
spair ; when, lo ! I beheld the sun just lifting his head above 
the eastern hill, and the shadow that fell from me lay 
only where his beams fell not. I danced for joy. It was 
only the natural shadow that goes with every man who 
walks in the sun. As he arose, higher and higher, the 
shadow-head sank down the side of the opposite hill, and 
crept in across the valley towards my feet. 

Now that I was so joyously delivered from this fear, I 
saw and recognized the country around me. In the valley 
below lay my own castle, and the haunts of my childhood 
were all about me. I hastened home. My sisters re- 
ceived me with unspeakable joy ; but I suppose they 
observed some change in me, for a kind of respect, with a 
slight touch of awe in it, mingled with their joy, and made 
me ashamed. They had been in great distress about me. 
On the morning of my disappearance, they had found the 
floor of my room flooded ; and, all that day, a wondrous 



284 PHANTASTES : 

and nearly impervious mist had hung alout the castle and 
grounds. I had been gone, they told me, twentj-one 
days. To me it seemed twenty-one years. Nor could 
I yet feel quite secure in my new experiences. When, at 
night, I lay down once more in my own bed, I did not 
feel at all sure that when I awoke I should not find my- 
self in some mysterious region of Fairy-land. My dreams 
were incessant and perturbed ; but when I did awake, I 
saw clearly that I was in my own home. 

My mind soon grew calm ; and I began the duties of my 
new position, somewhat instructed, I hoped, by the adven- 
tures that had befallen me in Fairy-land. Could I trans- 
late the experience of my travels there, into common life ? 
This was the question. Or must I live it all over again, 
and learn it all over again, in the other forms that belong 
to the world of men, whose experience yet runs parallel to 
that of Fairy-land ? These questions I cannot yet answer. 
But I fear. 

Even yet, I find myself looking round sometimes with 
anxiety, to see whether my shadow falls right away from 
the sun or no. I have never yet discovered any inclina- 
tion to either side. And if I am not unfrequently sad, I 
yet cast no more of a shade on the earth than most men 
who have lived in it as long as I. I have a strange feel- 
ing, sometimes, that I am a ghost, sent into the world to 
minister to my fellow-men, or, rather, to repair the wrongs 
I have already done. May the world be brighter for me. 



A FAERIE ROMANCE. 285 

at least in those portions of it where my darkness falls 
not. 

Thus I, who set out to find my Ideal, came back rejoic- 
ing that I had lost my Shadow. 

When the thought of the blessedness I experienced, 
after my death in Fairy-land, is too high for me to lay 
hold upon it and hope in it, I often think of the wise 
woman in the cottage, and of her solemn assurance that she 
knew something too good to be told. When I am oppressed 
by any sorrow or real perplexity, I often feel as if I had 
only left her cottage for a time, and would soon return out 
of the vision into it again. Sometimes, on such occasions, 
I find myself, unconsciously almost, looking about for the 
mystic mark of red, with the vague hope of entering her 
door, and being comforted by her wise tenderness. I then 
console myself by saying, " I have come through the door 
of Dismay ; and the way bdck from the world into which 
that has led me is through my tomb. Upon that the red 
sign lies, and I shall find it one day, and be glad." 

I will end my story with the relation of an incident 
which befell me a few days ago. I had been with my 
reapers, and, when they ceased their work at noon, I 
had lain down under the shadow of a great, ancient beech- 
tree, that stood on the edge of the field. As I lay, with 
my eyes closed, I began to listen to the sound of the leaves 
overhead. At first, they made sweet, inarticulate music 
alone ; but, by and by, the sound seemed to begin to take 



286 PHANTASTES. 

shape, and to be gradually moulding itself into words ; till, 
at last, I seemed able to distinguish these, half-dissolved in 
a little ocean of circumfluent tones : " A great good is com- 
ing — is coming — is coming to thee, Anodos ; " and so 
over and over again. I fancied that the sound reminded 
me of the voice of the ancient woman in the cottage that 
was four-square. I opened my eyes, and, for a moment, 
almost believed that I saw her face, with its many wrinkles 
and its young eyes, looking at me from between two hoary 
branches of the beech overhead. But when I looked more 
keenly, I saw only twigs and leaves, and the infinite sky, 
in tiny spots, gazing through between. Yet I know that 
good is coming to me — that good is always coming ; 
though few have at all times the simplicity and the courage 
to believe it. What we call evil is the only and best 
shape, which, for the person and his condition at the time, 
could be assumed by the best good. And so, Farewell ! 

THE END. 



HITHERTO, 

A. STOK-Y OF '5rESTEIir> AYS 

By Mrs. A. D. T. WHITNEY. 



" Never could Idyll boast a nobler rustic lover than Rich- 
ard Hathaway ; and never has a scene of rustic love been 
described with more simple grace and quiet humor than the 
episode of Annie's disgrace and the ' worrying ' of her hideous 
bonnet. For anything equally good, one is thrown back upon 
the recollections of Maggie in ' The Mill on the Floss.' " 
— Illustrated London News. 

" Our readers may order this book from the library with- 
out fear. There are touches of nature and family scenes 
which will find a ready response in the female heart ; and 
there is nothing that can offend the modesty of the most 
fastidious critic. " — London Athenceum. 

"Had we sufficient space, we might go on multiplying 
extracts of unmistakable beauty and originality ; but our 
readers must, if possible, procure the volumes for themselves 
and so form their own opinion, which, we trust and believe 
will entirely agree with ours. " — London Literary World. 

" The scenes and people are American, of the New Eng- 
land type, and in many respects they will remind those 
readers who are acquainted with them of Miss Wethereil's 
works, ' The Wide, Wide World,' &c., only there is more 
sti'ength and character about the present story, though it 
abounds with philosophizing, and only deals with persons 
and acts of unimpeachable morality. " — London Observer. 

"How this is brought about we must leave our readers 
to ascertain from the book itself, which is far too well worth 
reading for us to wish to save any one the task of studying 
it. Especially is the character of Richard Hathaway an 
exquisite conception — excellent in its weakness and in its 
strength, excellent in its shy self-depreciation, and yet in its 
occasional glimpses of its own i-eal worth and deservingness. 
We cannot think oiwselves wrong in rating it as one of the 
most faithfully-drawn characters in modern fiction. " — 
London Literary Churchman. 

"We can hardly recommend the book to mere novel- 
readers ; but to all who can appreciate a book of high pur- 
pose, of real power, of high interest — for, though there is 
nothing sensational, the story has in it a wonderful amou«it 
of life and variety — it will prove a most inviting and useful 
companion. " — London Nonconformi-^- 



PATIEICE STEONG'S OTJTIIGS. 

By Mks. a. D. T. Whitkey, 

Autlior of "Faitl Qartiiey's Girlliood,' "Tke Gaywortliys;' etc.. etc. 

One handsome 12mo, cloth. Price, $1.50. 



"PATIENCE STRONG'S OUTINGS" 

Is a peculiar and a rare book. The beautiful sympathy and 
intuition which shone in her former publications do not fail 
her in this. The ideas are of a deep significance, and are 
originally expressed. "We do not not remember any work 
similar to it in style. There is an incoherence, a disjointed- 
ness of phrase, which expresses far more than smoothness 
could. She writes as we talk when deep feeling moves us 
(reservedly, with averted face, as it were, ti-eadiug with hesi- 
tation on such holy ground), groping for expression which 
shall be forceful, yet, as far as possible, removed from senti- 
mentality or cant. She goes at once to the heart of life's 
deepest experiences, and, with a simplicity beautiful as it is 
rare, one's heart is moved with the noblest impulses, and 
softened by the tender pathos of her thoughts. We need not 
recommend such a book. The author's name is recommen- 
dation enough. 

Patience Strong's Outings are the outgoings of a woman 
whose apparent opportunities are mostly for staying in. 

They are the reachings of life beyond circumstance ; the 
book, therefore, is more of suggestion than story. 

The characterization and incidents are simply sufficient to 
connect and develope the thought. 

That " the world owes everybody a living *' is true in a 
better and higher sense than that in which the saying is 
ordinarily apjDlied ; and in the sketch of the simple doings 
and happiness at Bearwood, and at the old house where 
Patience Strong bides her time and vindicates her christen 
ing, one sees something of how the good gift that life i 
meant to be for every soul, comes surely, even into such 
a quietness ; and that out of the world is got the full and 
best world's worth, by the simplest heart that looks aud 
waits for it. 



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